Our Lady by the Sea Catholic Community
Location: Bolivar, Texas
Conceived as a symbol of hope for Bolivar Peninsula, which was ravaged by 2008's Hurricane Ike, this Catholic Center replaces two previous churches damaged beyond viable restoration. Its crisp, clean white and blue exterior invites visitors and parishioners to worship in a calm, protective environment. The design responds to the sense of place via its simple shed roof, lap siding and elevated floor level reminiscent of archetypal beach structures. The clean, bright interior starts with an octagonal lobby recalling of early Christian baptismal fonts which symbolizes entry into the Church. The gathering area features a mahogany-trimmed sanctuary, built-in Stations of the Cross and salvaged stained glass windows from one of the coastal churches closed after the hurricane. In addition to a weekly Mass, the building's Grand Hall can also accommodate other parish and community functions. The design features public restrooms, a warming kitchen and a covered outdoor social space below the elevated structure. The investment in concrete, masonry and steel joist construction not only exceeds the windstorm criteria for the coastal region, but also ensures that the Archdiocese's investment and services in Bolivar can endure future hurricane events.