After a recent settlement between the administration of the Holy Rosary Church and “those involved with the design and construction” of the complexes, the church is moving forward with new plans to redesign the elegant six-year-old complex. The new design, by WHLC Architecture, may not be changing much in respect to the structure – “we are not demolishing the entire buildings” the administration reassures – but the reconstruction defaces the original intent of the simple geometries and material choices made by Trahan Architects when the church complex was first designed in 2004.
In letters to the parish, the administration is pleased with the new design that comes off as more traditional. The original palette of poured in place concrete, plate glass and cast glass gives the design a simplicity that channels a meditative space. The simple projecting geometries of the original buildings’ design was an exploration of space, light, materials and function, producing an architectural space that was neither austere or opulent but resulted in a profound sacred space. These notions are replaced with unnecessarily complex and decorated forms that distract from the simplicity of the original structure.
The new site plan disregards sanctuary-like space produced by the four perimeter buildings laid out by Trahan Architects. The interior courtyard, designed to function as a meditative space with the chapel at its center, no longer exists in the new site plans. It is unclear whether this full design will be completed, but for now the administrative building which is the entrance into the space is being renovated in such a way that it is both a focal point and distraction from the concepts of the sacred spaces developed by the original architects and the chapel that was once its focus.
The new design, with the elaborate covered drop-off, pitched roof and mullioned windows, stands in opposition to the original consideration of the architects. The chapel, once the focal point of the original plan, slightly visible from the covered entrance yet concealed with the perimeter buildings, is veiled in the new construction and stands in competition with the new covered drop-off that clashes in style, form and materials.
It is tragic to see such a beautifully conceived work of architecture succumb to demolition and design changes years after its construction. It begs the questions, if architecture is a creative art, who does it really belong to? We can argue over which is better, but ultimately, and maybe in some minds, unfortunately, the decision rests on the client, who in this case is the Holy Rosary Church and is dissatisfied with the design pursued by Trahan Architects.
Original Project Details:
Architects: Trahan Architects, APAC
Location: Lousiana, USA
Project Architect: Victor F. “Trey” Trahan III, FAIA
Design team: Brad David, Kirk Edwards
Structural Engineer: Schrenk & Peterson Consulting Engineers
Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing Engineer: Apex Engineering Corporation
BUILDER: Quality Design and Construction, Inc.
Project Area: 1,586 sqm
Project year: 2004
Photographer: Tim Hursley / The Arkansas Office
Learn more about the original Holy Rosary Church by Trahan Architects, here on Archdaily.