Wednesday, November 26, 2008

St. Michael's, Leawood: What Might Have Been

"D Mac" over at Creative Minority Report has been continuing his good series on the liturgical architecture of St. Michael's, a new church planned for Leawood, Kansas. His latest installment deals with the hierarchical use of the classical orders in the design, as well as an aside on a clever iconographic variant on the Corinthian order unique to the church. (Even if you don't like classicism as a matter of taste or ideology, such symbolism is a good thing to learn about, and will make such architecture a little easier to read and analyze.)

What I was really blown away by was D Mac's recent entry on the the really stunning initial designs produced by architect David Meleca, as they stood before the project was value-engineered to meet the budget. When I first saw them, I was utterly stunned--in a good way.

They show the importance of thinking ambitiously, given how much of the original proposal made it into the final version. Furthermore, it's simply refreshing, speaking as someone who works in the field of architecture, to see someone working in such a high register of the classical vocabulary with such obvious pleasure and zest. The complexity (not mere complicatedness) of the design is handled with an almost unprecedented ease. Even the final version preserves much of that excitement. There is, of course, room for critique, but there is much here to consider and learn from, both in the general shape and its detailing.

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