Cannon Design achieve Merit Award in IDEAS2 awards with "spiritual centre"
A gothic revival oratory by Cannon Design has achieved a Merit Award in the American national 2008 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel (IDEAS2) awards competition.
The Parish of the Ave Maria Oratory in Florida, USA, is the focal element of a new town and university development on 4,000 acres of former agricultural land in southern Florida. The 30,000 sq ft, 1100-seat Oratory is both the spiritual and physical center of the community.
The award, which is sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction saw jurors applaud Cannon's design: "The application of structural steel to the arches on this project is a religious experience. Awesome!”. Later stating that the oratory is, “a lace-like structure, in a gothic revival of steel.” Judges considered each project’s use of structural steel from both an architectural and structural engineering perspective.
The design was based on a traditional basilica form, built with modern methods and materials. The detail, structure and finishes combine together to balance tradition and modernity. Entering the 120ft tall Oratory, the clear distinction of a contemporary structure of glass, steel and stone is revealed in greater detail. Continuing through the narthex, the soaring height of the nave is compressed by the choir mezzanine above and then expands upon entering the nave proper. The owner's primary design goal was to create a sense of mystery which Cannon created with the light penetrating from behind the lattice of steel above.
Design Principal Harry L. Warren, AIA, said: “This is a once in a lifetime project. The unique use of steel in a delicate appearing latticed structure created space of sublime beauty.”