Location: Dousman, Wisconsin
Architect: Plunkett Raysich Architects, LLP
Contractor: The Bentley Company
Composed of brick forms, soaring glass and branching steel “trees,” this 22,000 square foot church embraces a congregation in a dignified worship environment. The new worship space has a raised Altar platform and sloped seating for 650 people, expandable to seat 1,100 people with a future expansion.
The project also includes a gathering space, kitchenette, and meeting rooms. Adjacent to the worship space are the Eucharistic chapel, reconciliation chapel and sacristies for vesting and Mass preparation. The program also includes a circular drop-off and parking area. Finally, outdoor activities and ceremonies take place in an east-facing courtyard, which is partially enclosed by the church’s 52’ bell tower and colonnade.
The new project joins other buildings on a 20 acre site, anchoring the east end of an existing day-school, former church and parish hall. Primary facades face north, south and east, welcoming parishioners with a prominent masonry and steel bell tower.
Architecturally exposed structural steel trees are rooted in a solid masonry base, punctuated with a rhythm of deep narrow openings. Above, a canopy of wood beams and decking is supported by the four branching trees, consisting of steel wide flange sections. Its “limbs” extend at unequal angles and varying heights from their steel “trunks.”
The distinctive eight foot deep roof gable lends shelter from the hot summer sun, while admitting the low angle winter sun.
At the opposite end, another double row of steel trees completes the volume of the worship space, defining the “under-story” of seating between entrance and Altar.
A warm palette of materials and finishes reinforces the humble elegance of the design. Simple maple pews rest on a stained concrete floor. Daylight reaches this worship environment through the north and south gables, as well as six dormers that interrupt the roof canopy to admit diffuse light from above.
Photography: Al Gartzke