Video: Solar Church Scrape-Off

This is sad, the scrape-off of a solar church we designed 32 years ago in Lafayette, CO. If you have been in business as long as I have, you are bound to see some early projects be transformed into other forms, but this is just painful to watch. It’s hard not to view this as time and technology devouring the sacred, swiftly splintering boards and beams that once held a small developing congregation in their faithful quest.

I understand the inevitability of change, but this certainly comes across as a throw away, a lost opportunity to deconstruct and dismantle materials that still had valuable usage. That’s part of our disposable culture. I sure hope the series of homes anticipated for this property will be beautiful and relevant for the neighborhood.

Solar Church Scrape Off

Covenant Presbyterian Church was designed by my old partner-in-crime Gary Steele and myself. These were the early years of our long love affair with passive solar architecture that is attuned to local climate.

It gives me a laugh now, but we were also being influenced by the emergence of postmodernism. We didn’t take many visitations into that realm, but this church is one that alludes to historical formal references. It’s a little bit of a cartoony postmodern architectural look. Though we never got fully on board with the postmodern movement, the congregation was thrilled with a light filled sanctuary and the walkout lower level with fellowship and education.

Over time the irony was that the housing developments that grew up around the church were larger prairie palaces than the church. It became the reverse of historic conditions where the church was the central larger structure with smaller surrounding houses. And now new houses are swallowing up the church entirely. In a way, the writing was on the wall.

For memory’s sake we dug up this article in the Daily Camera from 1986. My former partner Gary Steele and I are proudly pictured in front of the “solar outfitted church.” In the article they measure the drop in solar energy equipment suppliers by how many columns the listings took in the Yellow Pages! Our project notes say the church was completed on a budget of $62/square foot. Yep, those were the days.

We will miss our pomo solarific church, just as I miss Gary. May they both rest in peace.


Solar Church Scrape Off