St. Thomas Aquinas Church

Cultural
LOCATION: Avondale, Arizona
COMPLETED: 2003
SIZE: 30,000 sq. ft.
OWNERS: St. Thomas Aquinas Church
ARCHITECT: CCBG Architects, Inc.
AWARDS: 2005 IES Illumination Award of Merit
  2005 A|L Light & Architecture Design Awards Commendable Achievement Award
PHOTOGRAPHER: © John Denker

DESIGN TEAM:Paul Zaferiou
 James Perry

This church fuses traditional Catholic themes with a regional, Southwestern vernacular. St. Thomas’s principles of grace and economy are recalled in clean, minimal forms and elegant detailing.

The dome’s interior is illuminated with a ring of fixtures, filling the volume with light and establishing a central visual focus. Vibrantly lit Stations of the Cross further define the structure, with backlighting creating a halo of light that floats the canvas panels away from the wall.

Delicate rings of halogen lights on low-voltage rail evoke a decorative interpretation of traditional, heavier cathedral chandeliers, without overwhelming the space’s light, airy proportions.

Overlapping layers of ambient light can be manipulated through a programmable dimming system to accommodate a wide range of uses. The intimate focus for youth group social events can shift smoothly to a grand sense of scale for weekly Mass.