Colin Drake, AIA,
St. Michael Catholic Church | Louisville, Kentucky
As the parish of St. Michael Catholic Church began to expand along with the community of Jeffersontown, Kentucky, JRA Architects was asked to create a master plan that would help guide the growing congregation’s architectural needs. By conducting interviews with the church community to better understand its wants and needs, researching the available land and space, and determining the feasibility of the alternative solutions, we were able to create a plan to effectively accommodate and inspire what is today the Archdiocese’s largest parish.
The new church stands on axis with the approaching road, furthering the mission of community outreach. Unlike traditional churches, parishioners enter the nave from behind the altar to respect processional doctrine, while also making baptisms more inclusive for congregants. Curved pews radiate from the central altar, affording 360-degree sight lines to the altar font. Overhead, the nave is encircled with a spectrum of art glass clerestories, which give way to the warmth of wood beams and the ceiling above. Once seated, the backdrop for the altar is a composition of wood-wing walls ascending to an organ loft with pipes framing the relocated Risen Christ statue.
St. Michael - now accommodating up to 1500 worshippers - expresses the inclusive nature of the parish community through the use of materials and forms that reflect the campus’s natural surroundings, while conveying a strong spiritual procession and celebrating the parish’s patron saint.