Saint John Orthodox Church

Cedar Park, Texas

The design for this liturgical worship setting was conceived as an interpretation of the traditional basilica church plan expressed in a distinctly American style. 

Orthodox Church buildings dedicated for worship are often referred to as temples. A temple is a meeting place of heaven and earth and as such, the design must bridge the gap of that tension between being transcendently beautiful but at the same time local, indigenous and native. 

Priorities underlying this specific design included:

  1. Natural light from high windows.
  2. People gathered around the altar celebrating the liturgy together. Facilitated by:
    • Floor space free from the obstructed views presented by columns.
    • Wide format basilica rather than long & narrow.
    • Low iconostasis to allow view of the apse.
    • Floor space mostly free of fixed seating. 
  3. No artificial amplification of voices needed for the worship services.
  4. Walls optimized for iconographic mural paintings. 
  5. Traditional forms expressed in simpler, clean line architectural details. 

It is more common for Orthodox Church temples around the world to be architecturally ornate rather than simple, but it is also appropriate to honor local building techniques and craftsmanship – in our case, expanding on the American traditions of exposed timber ceilings, rectilinear fenestration, clapboard siding, and locally quarried stone. In fact, the renowned liturgical artist Aidan Hart would propose such in his monumental 2011 work, Techniques of Icon and Wall Painting:

If the [icon] screen is for a clapboard chapel in the USA perhaps one could draw on the Shaker tradition for design ideas. (p.79)

SIZE:  New ~ 5,500 SF

CLIENT:  St. John the Forerunner Antiochian Orthodox Church

COMPONENTS:  Narthex with baptistry, Nave with transepts for chanters and choir, Holy Place with support spaces, Restrooms, Nursing Mothers' Room, Bell Tower Chapel, Preschool Classroom / Choir Room.


SERVICES:  Master Planning, Programming, Preliminary Design, Fund Raising Materials.

An Earlier Design Iteration: