NORTHPARK PRESBYTERIAN SANCTUARY
Cliff Welch, AIA, while at Oglesby Group
The Sanctuary is the heart of the Contemporary Campus of NorthPark Presbyterian Church designed by Ogelsby Group in 1989. The congregation of NorthPark spans a wide theological and political spectrum, celebrating differing points of view while finding unity in Christ. The sanctuary design is intended to lift the spirit and celebrate life. Soft natural light from North fills the space, gently filtered through a series of horizontal natural oak louvered screens. The natural material pallet of Texas Limestone, Oak and Pennsylvania slate floors warm the space while staying light and inviting.
Music is instrumental to NorthPark’s worship, so when the Sanctuary was being planned, space was allocated in the most prominent location for a newly acquired pipe organ. Open woodwork, emulating flats of an organ case, contain principal pipes from the Grand Orgue and Pédale divisions that form the organ’s façade. The polished copper resonators of the Trompette-en-chamade provide a dramatic visual contrast in the center. The instrument is used for the active music ministry of the church and for recitals and concerts including use during the 1994 National Convention of the American Guild of Organists.
The natural wood seems to grow from the sanctuary itself, originating at the floor, encompassing the lectern and pulpit, shifting to the screens that provide shelter for the choir, and then becoming more open and transparent as they wrap the organ pipes and eventually move to the ceiling, gently filtering the ethereal north light, while elevating the eye to the sky above. Not unlike traditional churches from past centuries, structure and craftsmanship are celebrated, though in a more contemporary approach, from the expressed open white steel trusses, to the texture of the stonemason’s work bathed in light as it rises from floor to ceiling, to the inlaid oak on the pulpit lectern and entry doors, to the single delicate custom stainless steel cross. Stained glass panels flank the sanctuary, gracefully suspended and backlit with soft northern light.
The opening service in the new sanctuary was almost 3 decades ago, yet it feels as timeless and inviting today as when it was then.
Client: Northpark Presbyterian Church
Photographer: Cliff Welch, AIA