First Presbyterian Church Colorado Springs / Trahan Architects


Trahan Architects, among several elite design firms to contend, was selected to design “one of the most significant ecclesiastical commissions in the nation,” also known as the First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs. The proposed 1,750 seat sanctuary, along with a master plan comprises this project, which sits in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The structure is relatively independent of overt signs of a church; its design aspires to revive the church’s identity through an architecture which articulates convergence.

More on the First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs after the break.

© Trahan Architects

The Church Leadership’s new vision encompasses an accessibility, rather than fortification, of religious facilities. The pre-existing, forbidding street walls at the South and West edges of the site have been replaced by a vast plaza and green, engaging the urban context to permeate the site.  This idea of open space as an “urban counterpart” is derived from Colorado Springs’ original master plan, the Palmer Code. By assuming a single city block is a coercive whole, it can then be employed as a community gathering space for civic events.

© Trahan Architects

It was crucial that the church provided a shield from the elements in these municipal linkages; buildings on the North face of the site are arranged to block prevailing winds and a series of climate-controlled promenades create a central linear atrium, connecting each individual component of the campus.  Following this “circulation spine” toward the core of the site, “the definitively secular life of the street and sidewalk progressively gives way to greater degrees of spiritual encounter and ultimately to sacred space.”

© Trahan Architects

The central, grand cathedral can be described as an encircling assembly of “vaulted canopies” that act as a unified, great canopy to cover the 118,000 square foot cathedral. The divisions between the canopies enable light to diffuse brilliantly below to the single-level of worshipers. The symbolism of the canopy examines its components; each of the canopies is a constituent of the greater whole, a community.

© Trahan Architects

As the awnings rise to a uniform plateau, the light wells form, depending on the time of day, the shape of a cross or star. It is a detail which is not overly blatant in this building’s design, but represents a spiritual presence within this sacred structure. This correlation between the secular, horizontal world and the sacred, vertical realm is established through Trahan Architects’ skillful manipulation of light, giving this grand structure a truly divine aura.

Architect: Trahan Architects
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
Project Team: Erik Herrmann, Emma Chammah, Luis Quinones, Mark Hash, Blake Fisher, Michael McCune, Sean David, Ben Rath, David Merlin, Tara Street-Bradford, Brad McWhirter, Christian Rodriguez, Ivan O’Garro, Judson Terry, Chris Simon
Key Personnel: Trey Trahan FAIA (Principal), Ed Gaskin AIA (Project Architect)
Consultants: ARUP Acoustics; ARUP Chicago – Structures, MEP;  ARUP New York – Lighting, Daylighting
Project Area: 118,000 sf.;  Sanctuary – 27,000 sf., Narthex – 7,000 sf., Fellowship – 21,500 sf., Music – 12,000 sf., Childcare – 20,000 sf., Bookstore/Cafe – 5,000 sf., Library – 700 sf.
Construction Cost:  $35,000,000.00
Completion Date:  TBD
Photographs: Trahan Architects
Project Type: Ecclesiastical
Project Scope: Sanctuary Schematic Design and Master Plan of Urban Campus
Client:  First Presbyterian Church Colorado Springs 

Cite: Edwards, Sarah. "First Presbyterian Church Colorado Springs / Trahan Architects" 30 Aug 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>
  • David Basulto

    Nice to see more works from Trahan Architects, amazing work. Very excited to see this church built.

  • Allan

    It seems monumental, has power and lightness in it. Very good.

  • John-David Carling

    what are triangulated smaller bits in the bottom right of aerial shot of the model?