St. Mary's Catholic Center | Master Plan & New Church Conceptual Design
College Station, Texas
After years of regularly experiencing standing-room only crowds for several of their seven weekend Masses in the 1958 church building, St. Mary’s Catholic Center is looking to build a new church on adjacent property currently occupied by their parking lot. Some 17,000 Catholic students and residents live in the area, and when adding frequently large numbers of visitors and guests, often cause a single Sunday Mass time attendance to swell beyond 1,300. Furthermore, the University has plans to increase the school's enrollment by several thousand more students, as College Station experiences a boom in mid- and high-rise housing and large-scale urban mixed-use developments, largely centered in or near the historic Northgate District which St. Mary's has called home for about 100 years.
Current restrictions on surface parking in Northgate mean the parking lot’s days are numbered, and potential partnership for relocating parking to mixed-use developments means St. Mary’s can focus on expanding their campus directly across the street (Nagle) from the existing single-block complex. The increasingly dense surroundings of 5 to 18-story buildings and the requirement of street frontage and pedestrian-friendly access argues for a prime corner placement of the new building and its front doors. The striking bell tower marking this entry is to be located at the corner of Nagle and Church Ave, serving as a gateway to the St. Mary's campus and to Northgate. While all of this growth is new construction, the traditional church among high-rises is reminiscent of a much older model of city downtown – fitting for Northgate's historic character as the City endeavors to retain a strong sense of the past while embracing the district's future. This responsive gesture ensures St. Mary's long-term presence and relevance to the neighborhood, sitting just a block from the bustling main thoroughfare to campus: University Ave.
The conceptual design for the new church is based on the three values of the Capital Campaign: Beauty, Encounter, and Tradition: [St. Mary’s] "wants to build a church that is artistically beautiful, provides an intimacy of encounter with God and one another, and is rooted in Catholic heritage." The Byzantine-Mediterranean-flavored Romanesque church layout is infused with architectural and liturgical theology, from its traditional cruciform plan, east-facing apse, and cube-shaped crossing supporting an octagonal-supported dome to its embedded 40 mysteries of the Rosary and pink-and-blue themed Marian interior honoring its patroness. The main nave would provide seating for around 1,600 people, not including a spacious choir loft with expanded music ministry facilities. The church interior will provide ample opportunities for thoughtful sacred art to powerfully engage the worshiper and make visible the invisible mysteries of the faith.
SIZE: New ~ 38,000 SF (main level + choir loft)
CLIENT: St. Mary's Catholic Center
COMPONENTS: Church with seating for 1,600; Narthex, Restrooms, Sacristies, Choir Loft, Music Ministry Suite
COMPLETION DATE: Est. 2022
SERVICES: Master Planning, Conceptual Design