The proper focus of the worship space should be the primary liturgical symbols of the altar, pulpit, and font. These pieces should comprise a “family” and have a unity and harmony between themselves and the particular setting they are placed within. All of these criteria were applied in the design of both the pieces and the interior setting at St. Andrew. The chancel platform, carpeting pattern, use of laminated woods, colors, and textures all serve to reinforce the overall goal towards unity and harmony and the enhancing of these symbols as the focus for liturgical actions.
The altar is the primary focus of the worship space and sets the tone for the remaining pieces. Its main element is a massive laminated top (mensa), which relates to the huge beams of the building as well as the wooded setting. To support this top, the altar is cross-braced on all four sides. The angle of these braces is that of the roof beams and windows or their complement. These crosses recall the cross of St. Andrew, particularly those at each end. On the mensa are carved five crosses, which along with the joinery on the cross braces, recall the five wounds of Christ.
The pulpit was designed to relate strongly to the altar. Thus, it utilizes a massive top and some of the same angles and geometry. It is intended to be an opening for preaching and not a barrier.
The font has a place of prominence and high visibility halfway between the entrance and the chancel since it is the place of initiation into the community. From the sides, its angles and geometry recall that of the altar and pulpit. The laminated top is octagonal in shape reflecting the ancient use of the octagon as a symbol for rebirth and regeneration. The water of new life is contained in a bowl made from the earth and made beautiful through the use of fire.
All of the pieces were designed for maximum “presence” in their settings without resorting to monumentality. This has been very challenging, particularly because of the high chancel wall which tends to dominate the space. It is the designer’s and Chancel Committee’s prayer that through the use of the massive tops, dark Honduran mahogany and ebony woods, and the eye-arresting crosses integrated into the designs, the three pieces can hold their own in a large space and serve the community’s liturgical needs with dignity and integrity.
David R. Richen, Architect, P.C.