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Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church

Saint Nicholas Eastern Orthodox Church is the result of a transformation of an existing metal shop building into a sanctuary and fellowship hall in anticipation of a larger adjacent sanctuary on the same site. The simple original structure is enveloped by a new skin, obscuring and refining the original gabled form. Although a small structure, its bold form makes it visible and recognizable from the interstate (I-540) which passes nearby.

Saint-Nicholas-Antiochian-Orthodox-Christian-Church-By-Marlon-Blackwell-Architect-©Timothy-Hursley-02-759x596 Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church / Marlon Blackwell Architect

©Timothy Hursley

For the interior, the vertical surfaces are considered neutral with limited articulation, but the horizontal surfaces are expressive, revealing priorities and hierarchies.

Saint-Nicholas-Antiochian-Orthodox-Christian-Church-By-Marlon-Blackwell-Architect-©Timothy-Hursley-08-759x595 Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church / Marlon Blackwell Architect

©Timothy Hursley

In the fellowship hall, the original concrete slab and the roof structure of the metal shop building are exposed, revealing the origins of the building. As one passes through the narthex, the ceiling gradually descends above a floor of rift-cut white oak, compressing the visitor before passing under the skylit tower that marks the entry to the sanctuary.

Saint-Nicholas-Antiochian-Orthodox-Christian-Church-By-Marlon-Blackwell-Architect-©Timothy-Hursley-07 Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church / Marlon Blackwell Architect

©Timothy Hursley

The white oak floor continues into the worship space, while a dome hovers above the parishioners. At the East end, the ceiling is carved away to allow for a 30 foot wide transom of translucent glass which bathes the sanctuary in soft light for Sunday morning services.

Saint-Nicholas-Antiochian-Orthodox-Christian-Church-By-Marlon-Blackwell-Architect-©Timothy-Hursley-10 Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church / Marlon Blackwell Architect

©Timothy Hursley

The iconostasis – the screen wall between the sanctuary and the altar area – is the one vertical surface that is articulated in great detail, featuring hand-painted, gilded icons, representative of the separation of heaven and earth. The southern wall of the sanctuary opens to accommodate additional visitors at holiday services.

Saint-Nicholas-Antiochian-Orthodox-Christian-Church-By-Marlon-Blackwell-Architect-©Timothy-Hursley-11 Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church / Marlon Blackwell Architect

©Timothy Hursley

Marlon Blackwell Architect:

The Saint Nicholas Eastern Orthodox Church transformed a generic shop building into a place of worship and fellowship. The existing structure was oriented in opposition to the Eastern axis that typically prevails in an Orthodox Church, so a narrow addition was placed on the western side, allowing the narthex to be folded, ending at the base of the tower.

Saint-Nicholas-Antiochian-Orthodox-Christian-Church-By-Marlon-Blackwell-Architect-©Timothy-Hursley-17 Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church / Marlon Blackwell Architect

©Timothy Hursley

The skylit tower pours red light down into the transition between the narthex and the sanctuary, giving a moment of pause before entering to worship. A narrow cross is supended on the western side of the tower, backlit by the morning sun to become a beacon for arriving parishioners. Once inside the sanctuary, a transom that spans the entire width of the space faces east and bathes the space in soft morning light during Sunday morning services.

Saint-Nicholas-Antiochian-Orthodox-Christian-Church-By-Marlon-Blackwell-Architect-©Timothy-Hursley-18 Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church / Marlon Blackwell Architect

©Timothy Hursley

The exterior skin is a box rib metal panel, common in local industrial buildings, while the interior finishes are kept simple, though handled carefully. Portions of the existing building are still exposed, reminding visitors of the history of the site and the transformation the church has undergone.

Saint-Nicholas-Antiochian-Orthodox-Christian-Church-By-Marlon-Blackwell-Architect-©Timothy-Hursley-01-759x577 Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church / Marlon Blackwell Architect

©Timothy Hursley

Project Data:

Project name: Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church
Location: Springdale 3171 S 48th St, Springdale, Arkansas, United States
Coordinates: 36.157827, -94.183430
Type: Church
Program: Orthodox Christian Church
Gross square footage: 3,600 sq.ft.
Cost: $405,000
Completion date: December 2009

Awards

  • 2013 – The American Institute of Architect (AIA Awards) – AIA National Awards – Honor Award
  • 2013 – Faith and Form Awards – Honor Award
  • 2012 – The American Institute of Architect (AIA Awards) – AIA National Awards – Small Projects Award
  • 2011 – World Architecture Festival Award – Category: CIVIC AND COMMUNITY – Winner
  • 2011 – Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design Awards – American Architecture Awards
  • 2011 – AIA Gulf States Region Awards – Merit Award
  • 2010 – Architect Magazine Awards – Citation
  • 2010 – The American Institute of Architect (AIA Awards) – AIA Arkansas State Awards – Honor Award

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church
Architects: Marlon Blackwell Architect – 42 E Center St, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701 United States
Civil Engineer: Bates & Associates, Inc
Environmental Engineer: Lourie Construction LLC
Main Contractor: Lourie Construction LLC
Structural Engineer: Myers Beatty Engineering, Inc
Text Description: © Courtesy of Marlon Blackwell Architect
Images: © Timothy Hursley, Lourie Construction

Materials & Suplier:

Structural system:

  • Existing steel structure with steel and light gauge framing addition.
  • Manufacturer of any structural components unique to this project: Ozark Steel

Exterior cladding:

  • Metal Panels: Metal Sales Manufacturing
  • Installed by Austin Chatelain and David MacIlyea
  • Other cladding unique to this project: HardiePanel smooth (canopy soffits)

Roofing:

  • Elastomeric: Firestone TPO (addition roof)

Windows:

  • Metal frame: Custom steel frames by Ozark Steel with aluminum stops by Abrams Glass.

Glazing:

  • Glass: Colored glass by Vanceva. Clear operable window by Kawneer. Both installed by Abrams Glass.
  • Skylights: Custom steel frame by Ozark Steel, glazed by Abrams Glass.

Doors:

  • Entrances: Kawneer aluminum storefront by Abrams Glass.
  • Special doors: Large operable wall between sanctuary and fellowship hall: custom steel frame by Razorback Iron Works

Interior finishes:

  • Iconostasis (screen wall in sanctuary): custom steel frame by Razorback Iron Works, icons by church iconographer, custom mounting by Lourie Construction LLC
  • Cabinet in entry and narthex: Lourie Construction LLC
  • Solid surfacing: Formica (kitchen and fellowship hall)
  • Special surfacing: Dome plaster: Lourie Construction LLC
  • Special interior finishes unique to this project: Narthex and sanctuary floor is rift-cut white oak.

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Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church / Marlon Blackwell Architect
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