This project had a complicated program, but in a nutshell, it involved converting an exterior courtyard into an additional assembly area, and virtually gutting the existing interior of the church, built in 1941, and re-orienting the organization of the service. Traffic flow, and placement and design of features were determined by a program that stressed the symbolic results over pragmatic considerations. My firm was awarded a Merit Award for Excellence by the American Institute of Architects for this project, which included not just architectural design, but the entire experience, including furniture and accessories.

The First Photo shows the main facade of the church designed by one of Montana's pioneer architects. As one of the last projects in a 40 year career, it made a strong design statement using art deco influences. Its design fortunately foreshadowed some of the themes the Catholic Church would stress in the decades to come. The strong design theme of the exterior was used repeatedly in the interior in an attempt to unify the worship environment.
The Second Photo shows a detail of the font and oils ambry. Burgundy and green slate duplicating the natural stone colors of the northern Rockies was used to provide a natural accent. The column shows the location of the former exterior wall, which was removed. In the background, in the south assembly room, one of the church's treasures, its original crucifix, is highlighted. The south assembly room can be closed off and used as a smaller chapel for funerals, etc., as the need arises.
The Third Photo depicts the entry and interior of the Eucharistic Chapel, with the relocated rose window, the focus of light on the tabernacle, and the entry, which re-used another 'treasure,' the original oak doors of the church (somewhat modified).
The Final Photo shows the original interior and the traditional arrangement of the worship space before the renovation project began.

Jeff Shelden, AIA
Lewistown, Montana
Prairie Wind Architecture, Project Listing, E-mail