They are often varied in design and function - Oklahoma City's
many religious buildings. Throughout the city, small chapels front
intersections and church spires reach into the sky.
architects say such traditional building designs are in no danger of
disappearing. But while particular denominations and religions may
dictate each building's style, some architects say new, more
functional building designs have emerged that may reflect an
expanding role of religious institutions.
"We're seeing more
educational facilities, more community-center-like activities
becoming a part of most contemporary churches," said Nick Harm, an
associate professor with the University of Oklahoma's College of
"Maybe we're getting away from such a heavily
symbolic role in the architectural configuration of churches and
getting into more of a directly functional purpose."
architects who design church buildings say recent construction shows
some trends in church design emerging.
styles and elongated sanctuaries are still popular. More churches,
however, are emerging with fan-shaped or round sanctuaries that
bring the churchgoers closer to the pulpit.
recently constructed churches have added multimedia features, family-
life centers and attached classrooms, and multi-use spaces to
accommodate more than just a weekly service. The designs are evident
in some of Oklahoma City's newer church buildings, including the
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Edmond, St. Elijah Antiochian
Orthodox Christian Church and Crossings Community Church, both in
Steve Von Tungeln, a principal with Architectural
Design Group in Oklahoma City, said recent construction shows a
desire by churches to be functional and also accommodate future
"There is an emphasis on more family life centers, more
community-related facilities that allow churches to hold events,"
At Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Oklahoma
City, ADG worked to restore the interior of the church sanctuary
built in 1923. In a sign of new demands on the church, the
congregation added a community center, known as the Connor Center,
which features a 100-seat chapel, classrooms, a conference center,
choir room, nursery and kitchen.
At Crossings Community Church,
which opened in September 1999 at 14600 N. Portland Ave. in Oklahoma
City, the church built a 3,500-seat sanctuary. A master plan for the
78-acre complex includes classrooms and offices but also a gym, a
3,600-square-foot theater and sports fields.
"It seems like every
facility that we do nowadays ... is focused on keeping the young
ones there, and to provide more facilities that allow youth programs
and community outreach," Tungeln said. …