SFS Architecture

Building Evaluation

St. Matthew the Apostle Parish

Kansas City, MO

Elegant, economical design transforms utilitarian worship space to create sense of sacred worship environment

Challenge

Transform an existing pre-engineered worship space on an extremely tight budget to provide a “church feel” and create a simple, sacred environment.

Process

This parish had been worshipping for years in a pre-engineered metal building that was designed to become the school gymnasium. The parish was unwilling to go into debt to finance a new worship space so the SFS design team worked with church leaders to create a master plan and develop a first phase of construction that was feasible within the funds that had been raised in the capital campaign drive. Through the use of renderings, elevations and 3-D modeling, SFS was able to gain Building Committee and parish support for approval of the new design.

Solution

The redesigned worship space, which was completed for under $100/SF, turned the facility 180 degrees literally and aesthetically.  The sanctuary was moved to the north side of the building and the former narthex has been converted into a daily mass chapel located immediately behind the altar.  The concrete block walls were painted a deep blue and the ceiling rafters are now hidden behind a facade of white pillars and ceiling baffles that diffuse direct sunlight from new skylights. The simple white forms provide a more vertical feeling and create an interlayer of space to give a sense of mystery.  New skylights were added to bring in natural light and enhance the religious experience.  As one parishioner put it, “It finally looks and feels like a church.”

Awards & Publications

2007
Merit Award for Religious Architecture, Liturgical/Interior Design, Faith & Form/IFRAA

“The designers have transformed the interior of a pre-engineered building into something spiritual and uplifting. With a minimal budget they accomplished something that is not predictable. The interior has wonderful scale and provides a dramatic setting for worship.”
– Faith and Form Religious Architecture Award Jury