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Church, Sarasota, FL
Julian Norman-Webb Studios, LLC
(Slideshow)

The renovation and expansion of this Sarasota church involved the renovation of the existing building, built in 1984, and its expansion from 800 seats to 1,400 seats. Coupled with this was the desire to change the character of the worship space from one that was a meditative, indirectly lit space with loose seating in the round to one that was more uplifting in character, with direct natural lighting highlighting the liturgy and a strong link to Florida’s natural environment. In addition, the inadequate services provided in the existing building required replacement and expansion to meet the needs of the greatly increased population.

The resulting design is a somewhat Baroque composition that still maintains the conservative modern vocabulary of the existing building. The building maintains links to the history of the parish by creatively reusing the existing northern and southern ends of the existing building and inserting the addition in between the two, while also bringing a flood of daylight and human energy to what was a rather dark and crowded circulation within the existing building. Some of the existing engraved glass, as well as the existing baptismal font, were salvaged and relocated.

The acoustics of the building were of paramount importance, and a professional cantor or hand-bell choir can clearly be heard throughout all the pews without the aid of a microphone. There is a very warm atmosphere to the worship space; parishioners feel in close proximity to the liturgy. The curved pews on the sloped floor provide a bowl of seats that bring the assembly together. The neutral color pallet allows the gathered people to be the color of the space.

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