Texas Architect May/June 2011: Context
The May/June 2011 edition, Context, features projects that strike a balance between a building’s unique program and the desire for synthesis with its surroundings. The U.S. Courthouse in El Paso directly relates to the region’s geography while adhering to stringent security standards; the restoration of Ancient Oaks near Bastrop recaptures a once-lost sense of place through sensitivity to existing conditions; the Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg demonstrates how to tell a heroic story without overwhelming a small town’s historic fabric; and Singing Bell Ranch offers its city-dwelling owners a getaway of "ranch pragmatism" and prevailing breezes. Other articles include a news update on the City of Austin’s Great Streets program, two commentaries on the 82nd Texas Legislature, a profile of Sisters’ Retreat by Mell Lawrence Architects, and an account of how Ziegler Cooper Architects helped a historic church in Plantersville accommodate a sudden influx of members.
TEXAS ARCHITECT 5 / 6 2 011 80 BACKPAGE Split Decision Plantersville’s historic church takes drastic measures to makes room for more worshipers by PAUL LODHOLZ, AIA SINCE 1917, THE QUAINT ST. MARY’S CATHOLIC CHURCH in Planters- ville has long provided an intimate place of worship for the families in this rural corner of Grimes County. The small, wood-frame sanctuary’s simple axial plan terminates in a traditional apse that gracefully encom- passes a beautifully detailed reredos. The interior, elegantly detailed by local craftsmen with cherubs and other Christian motifs, reflects an earlier time. Recently, under the leadership of Father Ed Kucera, a major renova- tion brought new life to the church’s historic interior. The work revealed elaborate stenciling below the white-wash finish of the bead board and that discovery led to an aggressive effort to restore the interior to its original hand-painted glory. Subsequent growth in membership prompted parishioners to ponder the future of St. Mary’s, and then an episode of The History Channel’s Mega Movers series motivated church leaders to ask themselves, “Can we stretch the original church to accommodate more worshippers?” To find the appropriate answer, the Worship Place Studio of Ziegler Cooper Architects and Fretz Construction Company were hired to explore options. The architects suggested that the historic building be split in two and expanded by 30 feet to seat another 140 parishioners. Working with Cherry House Movers, the team devised a strategy that also updated the church yet imposed minimal visual effect to its structure. New fenestration matches the Gothic leaded-glass windows and new seating corresponds with the rustic pews. The renovated church – now air conditioned – features a glass connec- tor that joins the historic building to a new addition containing a lobby, restroom block, and a new reconciliation room. Completed last November, St. Mary’s re-opened to a crowd of 5,000 parishioners and visitors. Paul Lodholz, AIA, is a senior principal with Ziegler Cooper Architects. CLOCK W ISE F RO M TO P: JOHN C. L INDY; COURT ESY OF ZIEGL ER COO PER A RCHIT ECT S ; A N D JA M ES SM OCK