Church Of St. Mary
The design solution selected by St. Mary Star of the Sea to support the growth of their parish in Unionville, Connecticut was the development of a new Church and parish Center on a parcel of land owned by the parish across Main Street from the existing Church. This solution ameliorated a hazardous situation, in which parishioners had to cross a state highway (Main Street) from the parking lot to the Church.
This building was designed to accommodate 600 parishioners within the Sanctuary. The plan successfully incorporates a full range of elements that support worship, community and music. Furthermore, the design embodies the directives set forth in Built of Living Stones, and other post-Vatican II imperatives. The proximity of the parish center to the Worship Space and the liberal use of glass in the wall that separates the two, allows for an abundance of overflow seating to accommodate the increased number of participants for special celebrations.
Parishioners typically access the Sanctuary through the spacious, sun-filled parish center. Upon entering the Sanctuary, congregants are enveloped by an abundance of naturally finished wood, soaring volumes, and inspiring acoustics.
It was important to parishioners that this building be a continuation of St. Mary’s long history in Unionville. To that end, significant and meaningful artifacts were incorporated into the design of the new church. The crucifix, Stations of the Cross, and the tabernacle became part of the new Worship Space. The pipe organ was disassembled, reconditioned, and installed behind a new façade in the new building.
The new church building replaced a structure that was constructed in 1865. Mid-nineteenth century religious buildings present a wealth of barriers for those who are mobility impaired. The new Worship Space and parish Center are fully accessible, which has improved the lives of the parish’s congregation.
A great deal of preparatory work was done with the Building Committee, the neighbors, and the Town Planning and Zoning Board to arrive at an architecturally sensitive design that would enhance the neighborhood.