Degree Granting Department
Steven Cooke, M.Arch.
Church, Ecclesiatic, Gradient, Multi-use, Light
Within the last twenty years, Evangelical Protestants, primarily in the southeastern United States, transformed the functions of their churches from a traditional sacred gathering space to an open outreach resource for the community. Architectural form did not follow these new functions and the complexity of their modern spatial usage has never been resolved. Modern typologies, such as the mega-center or its smaller counter-part the metal building chapel, ignore their responsibility to the community as a symbolic presence. Protestant churches began community outreach programming like life wellness series and youth enrichment programs. Once viewed as secular, these programs increased accessibility of the church to the public. Also, long-established welfare programs like soup kitchens have gained visibility. Churches facilitate these programs with large, non-descript multi-use spaces.
Typically the main worship hall is given prominence, though it is only occupied for formal worship. To strengthen the modernization, ecclesiastic design must pay tribute to both service types: secular and sacred. For my study, I chose the First United Methodist Church of Pensacola and considered its daily usage. Acting as a house of God, the church is vibrant center for its members and the community. Due to its historic location in downtown Pensacola, the church expanded for its community outreach programming into adjacent properties. As a result, secular daily events disengaged from the main worship hall. This thesis is a design solution for the modern church; that respects traditional liturgical elements of the denomination while allowing spatial flexibility for the use throughout the everyday life of the church. Program elements are based on the site's need for permanent locations; a soup kitchen and an activities center for an inner-city youth.
The design also intertwines the journey of every person with awareness of each program's significance, and it rests on concepts of light and spatial usage in traditional sacred spaces in conjunction with an analysis of modern functions to determine emotive quality of each space. By understanding the intertwined relationship between the place of worship and the compassionate act of communal support, the architectural response will redefine what is sacred.
Scholar Commons Citation
Sisson, Sarah A., "Redefining what is sacred" (2008). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.