Situated between a sprawling hotel and a residential neighborhood, Our Lady of the Mountains church is at once clearly identifiable, with its hallmark campanile and copper apse protruding towards the street, and comfortably in keeping with its low-scale neighbors. The alpine-style campanile also symbolically represents the church’s long local history, visually resembling the original 1930’s church’s campanile.
The monastic-like campus consists of a light-filled main chapel, intimate adoration chapel, transitional gathering space, parish hall, and offices. A simple earthy material palette—almost exclusively of regional stone and wood articulates the many rooflines and vertical masses, helping to belie the building’s 28,000 square feet. By digging a moat-like trench around half the exterior, architects both created a clearly defined entrance which extends over the trench to welcome visitors, and quietly maximized usable space on the lower floor for a K-3 parish education facility. The welcoming pathway brings visitors immediately into airy transitional space which serves as a buffer zone between public and spiritual realms.
The building’s greatest achievement is the reinvention of an existing low, dim-lit 1960s chapel as the church’s new centerpiece, the main chapel. By adding clerestory windows and flanking wings to the original chapel’s nave, architects created a cruciform configuration of stained-glass that generates an uplifted feeling without distorting the sense of scale, while angled pews, acoustic tapered triple sheetrock, and pre-existing gluelam rafters all subtly focus attention to the altar.