LS3P was fortunate enough to celebrate another building opening this past week. When an owner celebrates a grand opening it is definitely a special moment for an architect. It is the culmination of several years of hard work and the best part is, your client is very happy.
They have a new home.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston Pastoral Center opened its doors recently. That's a real mouthful so I will refer to it as The Pastoral Center for the rest of the blog. The project is actually a campus of 3 separate buildings that are placed along the edge of the Ashley River. So I guess you could say we had 3 openings!
This post will feature the Chapel.
For a look at the office building, see Diocese of Charleston Pastoral Center: Office
For a look at the assembly building, see Diocese of Charleston Pastoral Center: Assembly Building
I have to say that I am pretty enamored with the Chapel. It was a very challenging building to design, but the results have exceeded our expectations. It is hard to take a bad photo of this building. I know I may sound a little big-headed saying these things, but I am just very proud of our design.
I wrote a pretty thorough blog about the design challenges associated with this project that you must check out: Design: It's a process.
If someone were to ask, "what style are the buildings at the Pastoral Center?" I would say that the buildings are a blend of Ecclesiastical and Lowcountry architecture. Meaning we wanted all 3 buildings to have a strong tie to the church, while also referencing the local architecture of Charleston.
What is Lowcountry Architecture?
Lowcountry refers to the southeastern region of South Carolina that is along the coast and very close to sea level. Hence the description: low. The term is commonly used to describe the landscape of the region, the culture, the cuisine and the vernacular architecture.
One of the most defining characteristics of Lowcountry architecture is the use of shade devices.
It's hot down here, y'all!
Lowcountry buildings use trees, deep roof overhangs and large covered porches to combat the harsh southern sun. It is common for the buildings to be elevated in an effort to mitigate flood damage. Typical building materials include metal roofs , clapboard siding, board and batten siding, and brick.
We were able to pull all of these lowcountry characteristics into the design of the campus and as a result, the Pastoral Center has a real unique sense of place.
The chapel is designed to hold 180 people. It provides a peaceful place for employees to pray, for special services and for weekday mass. One of our goals was to create a simple space that would celebrate the artwork and surrounding nature.
At the dedication, I was happy to hear that the acoustics in the nave were great. No echo. Everyone seemed to appreciate the beauty of the space and the fact that it was a chapel among the trees. The view of the marsh behind the altar is quite unique.
And the pews were actually comfortable!
See...not a bad picture!