Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
St. Luke University Parish is a Catholic campus ministry to Grand Valley State University, as well as the local parish in Georgetown Township, Michigan. With a growing student population, and an increasing number of young families joining the parish, St. Luke needed a new space to accommodate its current parishioners and prepare for growth. Construction of a new parish in 2017 included a Chapel building with flexible worship space to accommodate 400 people, classrooms, meeting and social rooms, a nursery, and a separate three-suite Rectory.
As a campus ministry, it was important that the new buildings would reflect the brand, culture, and style of the experience it offers. Knowing that the facilities are a critical part of the first impressions, the parish priests desired transparency that revealed the life and activity inside the church and promoted a relationship to the outdoors. Their vision included using materials such as glass, wood, and concrete.
The Chapel’s design is composed of simple massing that features a distinct roof form, and masonry that changes appearance with the light. Operable partitions were employed inside to allow the worship and ancillary spaces to be as flexible and usable as possible. The design and construction teams also collaborated to create a cost-effective, yet expressive, structural solution of built-up wood trusses with exposed steel fasteners that are visible from the exterior through large windows. These trusses and the slatted wood ceilings were carefully detailed to cleanly integrate lighting and conceal electrical and fire protection systems while reducing acoustical reverberation. The overall impact is a warm and uplifting experience that is connected to the environment.
The adjacent Rectory quietly nestles into the prairie-like setting. It provides public spaces for the priests to share life in community and private suites for rest and solitude, all of which are flooded with natural light.