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project client

Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe Towers, Dallas

Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas



d e s i g n t e a m Craig Melde; Gary Skotnicki; Richard Martratt; David

Chase, AIA; Jeff Cummings Andres Construction

contractor consultants

Jaster-Quintanilla (structural); O’Dea Lynch Abbat-

tista (MEP); Lindsley Architectural Lighting (lighting); Introspec Restoration Technology (specifications) photographer

Carolyn Brown

In the mid-1990s, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas settled on a simple, but audacious goal: To commemorate the 100th anniversary of its cathedral by finally completing the building as originally designed by one of Texas’ most significant architects. The result is testament to both the power of the original work and the talent of those responsible for the remarkable addition that ensued. Nicholas J. Clayton was a rock star among early Texas architects. Based in Galveston, Texas’ most important nineteenth-century commercial and cultural center before the catastrophic storm of 1900, Clayton had a vibrant practice, with large institutional and civic edifices being his forte. He was so singularly influential that the last third of that century in Galveston is often called the “Clayton Era.” The Catholic Church was an especially faithful client offering him many significant commissions. Among them was Church of the Sacred Heart for the newly established Diocese of Dallas. As was his wont, Clayton produced an exuberant structure in keeping with his penchant for High Victorian monumentalism. He proffered his first design in 1889, then a revision in 1896. Ambitious towers were signature features of each scheme, as was an overarching verticality, expressed in the forms, fenestrations, and finials of the facade. Accordingly, the building begun in 1898 clearly evoked the great cathedrals of Europe. However, by the time it was dedicated in 1902, it had been shorn its soaring towers (reportedly because they were taller than the collection plate was deep). Nonetheless, over the next century, it became a much loved landmark, housing what is today one of the nation’s largest congregations. In 1977, Rome designated it Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe. In 1997, ARCHITEXAS was retained to develop a comprehensive restoration plan for the cathedral with specific emphasis on completing the unfinished portions of the original design. Unlike many restoration projects, the problem of determining original intent was the abundance rather than absence of available information. Clayton, in an effort to retain some semblance of the towers in response to the shifting fortunes of the fund-raising effort, had prepared a number of schemes. These designs featured a multiplicity of options – dual spires, major and minor spires, big and notso-big spires – and many of these were found lovingly preserved in Galveston’s Rosenberg Library (see Texas Architect, Mar/Apr 1986). After carefully study, the team determined the built work most closely adhered to the 1896 design, deeming it the most authentic representation of original intent. It also featured the most ambitious tower scheme, consisting of a west spire soaring to 209 feet and a shorter but broader east turret to balance the composition. The sole surviving remnants of this design were a meticulously drafted elevation and building section. With the question of “what to do” settled, the issue of “how to do it” began to loom large. This was also complicated by a Diocese request that a 49-bell carillon and clavier be incorporated into the tower, thereby requiring an interpreted design (including an additional 10 feet in height). The attendant static and dynamic loads of this 25-ton instrument significantly increased the structural degree of difficulty—which was already high. ARCHITEXAS quickly determined that the existing

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Texas Architect Nov/Dec 2007: Sacred Space  

Texas Architect is the official publication of the Texas Society of Architects, each edition features recently completed projects and other...

Texas Architect Nov/Dec 2007: Sacred Space  

Texas Architect is the official publication of the Texas Society of Architects, each edition features recently completed projects and other...