New Architecture: St. Michael the Archangel Church in Leawood, Kansas


In the year 2009, David B. Meleca (now a part of the firm Moody Nolan) undertook an impressive design for a new parish church situated in Leawood, Kansas: St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church.  The project involved building a parish church that would seat 1200 people and also included other parish buildings in addition -- though ti is the church which is our interest of course.  From the architect:

The design is inspired by the Renaissance churches of Rome. The west entrance fa├žade includes a large portico, rose window and volutes flanking the upper story and the church has a cruciform plan. The aisles are defined by large Doric columns that support the upper level walls with Ionic pilasters and clerestory windows. The altar, ambo (pulpit), and high altar are finished with specially designed stone pilasters of the Composite Order. The octagonal baptistery is located between the south transept and the nave.

This Renaissance element David mentions here is particularly in evidence in the facade of the church -- a design that brings a very classic, Italianate and Roman feel to it. 




Turning our attention to the interior, it has a rather unique design where the sanctuary is concerned. The sanctuary has an octagonal shape that is raised from the nave and surrounded with a balustrade.  


If this seems novel, what it actually puts me to mind of is the historical arrangement of the presbyterium of the Duomo of Florence (and I wouldn't be at all surprised if this served as a direct model and inspiration for this, even if Roman sources are primarily cited as the church's primary inspiration):


However, while the altar and sanctuary are, of course, the liturgical centre of the church, visually what stands out most in this particular church is the reredos structure by virtue its colourful depiction of St. Michael the Archangel, the patronal namesake of the church, surrounded by various saints of local and missionary importance within the Americas. 




As you will see as well, a tabernacle arrangement is attached to this approximating the form traditional high altar, inclusive of its traditional six candlesticks. Further forward we see the actual altar, a noble and solid structure designed in the "tomb" form, made of red, white and green marbles -- a design you will see echoed elsewhere (including the aforementioned tabernacle).



The ambo continues this this same design scheme. 


One will note here as well that its design adopts a traditional shape and form, one that we frequently see in relation to detached pulpits/ambos.

Last but certainly not least, not to be neglected here is the impressive baptistery. What I particularly like is how it is visually set into an autonomous space of its own, demarcated by its columns.


Whereas the sanctuary design put me to mind of the Duomo of Florence, seeing these beautiful red columns, set within an octagonal context around the baptismal font, itself surrounded by a balustrade, immediately put me to mind of the great baptistery of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran in Rome:


The font itself once again echoes the design found on the altar, tabernacle and ambo.



Finally, the baptistery is completed by its beautiful cupola of royal blue, peppered with a patterned design that reaches its main artistic focus: an image of the dove, representing the Holy Spirit. (Do take note as well of how the four lights are wonderfully integrated into the decorative design). 


There is certainly a very great deal to like here.

For more information, please visit David Meleca at Moody Nolan's website or see David's social media page. 

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