Architecture, Like Religion, Has Transforming Power for Springdale Church

by Chris Bahn  on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 12:00 am  

There were elements of the design that Blackwell eventually had to abandon. Instead of paintings of the church’s icons, prints or decals are used. Blackwell had to design shelves to hold robes, candles and other instruments of worship, rather than building cabinets for them.

It’s that simplicity — and the willingness to be a good steward of the church’s limited resources — that has helped earn the building recognition.

“The project makes the most with the least, displaying deep resource efficiency as an integral part of its design ethos — something more architects should be thinking about and practicing,” one AIA juror noted when evaluating the church.

Blackwell takes pride in the fact that limited resources could be turned into something internationally recognized for its beauty. It has, he said, inspired him to think about projects where he uses only repurposed materials.

“Too often architecture is deemed for the elite, the rich and the powerful,” Blackwell said. “I think the architecture we try to do is for the everyday. It’s for everyone. I think this church is a way to demonstrate that and hopefully it’s an inspiration to others.”

Atchison said the way the church is designed has been an inspiration to church members. Because it is a humble structure and intimate, it lends itself to the appropriate mindset for worship.

St. Nicholas has seen a 30-percent increase in attendance since it opened. Part of that is attributed to the recognition the church has received, and Atchison said it also helps that there are limited distractions inside the sanctuary, which can accommodate up to 100 people when a moveable wall is opened up into the fellowship hall.

“I think it’s simple enough that people can relax,” Atchison said. “If you make it extremely elaborate it can be distracting. People who have come to church here tell us it’s interesting how people just come in and worship. That is the goal, after all: Get people to think about God and worship Him.”



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