Louisville Magazine

AUG 2013

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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Page 138 of 156

& Architecture design W hen the original St. Michael Catholic Church opened in 1980, Jefersontown and the land to its southeast was a very diferent place. About 350 could assemble at this country church, nestled among farmland, wood, lake and stream. With the completion of the Gene Snyder Freeway in 1987, the population grew, and members of the congregation knew they would have to grow with it. In June a new St. Michael opened its doors. Te new church, yards from the original, seats up to 1,200 and, although down the road is a Kroger and a Starbucks, you still feel as if you are in the country. Te parishioners on the church building committee set out to create a space that honored the history of St. Michael but also refected the church's roots, which hold that "nature is a door to the sacred." "We had to look to the future but wanted to evoke our history in God's natural beauty," says Mary Rose Stephenson, one of the committee members. Te group did its homework, visiting churches all over the Midwest, and chose the frm of JRA Architects (with ofces in Lexington and Louisville) when the team noticed architect 13 6 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.13 Colin Drake taking pictures of the sun's position on-site throughout the day. "We knew we had our man," says the Rev. Dick Sullivan, the parish priest. Various woods — walnut, European and American beech, and cherry — bring nature into the edifce. A white pine taken from the construction site that held great meaning to the parishioners "lives on as detail on the pulpit," Drake says. Stones from the site are interred in the church, reinforcing the connection between the congregation and the land. Te church's spherical shape comes from the ministry's logo, a tree with branches that open and welcome all. Inside, "you feel the power of these rounded pews," says architect Mark Trier. Te radiating softs and the oculus dei that spreads light around the altar and wing wells were designed to intensify the feeling of a circle. Ten-foot windows bring the outside in, and the stained glass is the product of Louisville's Kenneth vonRoenn. Te clerestory is a rainbow of color meant to refect God's praise in Genesis chapter nine, when Noah fnally landed. Te window of the archangel Michael is powerful, his shield becoming an unexpected design element. "Te shield's form allowed us to refect the interior and exterior, shaping windows, pews, and the frames of the Stations of the Cross by its curvature," Trier says. A new and brave idea, rarely used in a Catholic Church, results in the congregation entering the church from behind the altar. "It changes how people become involved in the service," Trier says. "And the congregation felt that they could bear a new standard." Te fora-inspired baptismal font by local blacksmith Craig Kaviar (see sidebar) greets those entering from behind the altar. A small raindrop of water delicately falls from leaf to leaf, and the font itself is recessed so as not to detract from the altar. "Baptism is the entrance to our faith," Sullivan says. "We are reminded of that each time we enter the church." In a letter to Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Mary Rose Stevenson spoke of the design process this way: "We wanted to recognize our beginnings and our history . . . and our simple, rather rural roots." Roots like a tree, planted by streams of water, as they say in the Psalms.

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