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  • Writer's pictureSteve Baker PhD AIA

Integral Parts of the Catholic Church Building Process: A Complete Rundown

Updated: May 16

The construction process for a normal building is typically straightforward. There’s a design phase and an architectural phase where all the ideas are implemented into a formal blueprint, and then contractors get to work putting it all together. 


The Catholic church building process is a bit complex. When dealing with something so spiritually important, just following the status quo isn’t enough.


Extra care and attention have to be placed on all the finer details. Not to mention, extra steps must be taken to protect the authenticity and legitimacy of the church as a place of worship.


Since Catholic churches are such unique architectural projects, we’ve put together this brief look at the entire process from start to finish.


Let’s check it out.


1: Conceptualization and Design


Before anything can be built, it must be conceptualized, and a Catholic church is no different. Luckily, Catholic churches tend to follow in the design footsteps of the traditional churches from long ago. So, designing them is mostly about getting the details right


Church architects, who are worth their salt, start the process with a full scan of the area that will eventually be home to the new church. Using the latest in laser scanning technology, they can develop a virtual design space that is a 1:1 recreation of the area you’ll be building your church in.


Parts of a Catholic church building process - Exterior design.

From there, you and the church designers will work together to plan out the church and create virtual 3D models that are accurate down to 1mm of precision.


This part of the process is almost as if you’re building the church right before your eyes in real-time. It takes a professional touch to ensure it’s done properly, but you will get to see each step of the process as it’s done. 


2: Generating the Blueprint


Even with the most accurate design technology available, a blueprint still needs to be rendered to start the construction phase. This is the “instruction manual” that the construction crew will work from. 


Thanks to technology, this too can be handled with software that is faster and more flexible than any solution from the past but it remains one of the most crucial parts of a Catholic church building process.


3: Determining Project Requirements


Thanks to the accuracy of scanning technology and the team’s experience with such important projects, the next step is to determine which materials, and how much of each, are needed to complete the project. 


A lot goes into this process, and it’s not as easy as letting software do all the work. 


Your goal is to build a church that respects the Catholic faith and reminds all who see it of the power and purity of God and the Holy Trinity. However, that doesn’t mean that you want to use far too many materials and produce waste. 


Much of this process is focused on ensuring that no corners are cut, and savings are found in reducing waste rather than using sub-par materials. 


4: Constructing the Church


Once everything is designed, a blueprint has been made, and the materials secured, it’s time to start the building process. Of course, this includes obtaining all necessary permits for the project. 


This is largely like any other construction project, except the materials used, and the general design, are far more elegant and traditional. Much more work goes into ensuring that the church is more than just a structure. Each detail must bring glory to God. 


5: Adjusting During 


One unique aspect of the design and architecture process is that the software and scanning techniques allow us to continuously scan the project as it’s being constructed.


We can spot conflicts in the design, flaws from construction mistakes, and simply things that you don’t like when you see them in person. Sometimes, minor mistakes are made, or certain features you thought would work don't.


Parts of a Catholic church building process - Interior church architecture.

Not only can we scan the project and compare the results, but we can also adjust things in 3D and 2D in real time thanks to the lidar scanning technology.


Right there at the project site, if something isn’t up to the standards of a proper Catholic church, we can make adjustments and relay the necessary information to the team handling construction. 


6: After-Project Service & Adjustments


Similarly to the previous step, once the church is built, furnished, and ready to be a place of worship, we can rescan to ensure that everything is built to your specifications, and if you ever need to renovate, change certain features, or otherwise start another project within the church, we can use the same 3D scanning technology to streamline that process and make it a success. 


7: Giving Glory to God


This is the step that truly sets the process of building a Catholic church apart from any other. As a building of worship and a place for those of faith, a church is not just any random building. It is dedicated to God, and it should give all its glory to God.


Throughout the entire process we’ve talked about, instilling holy imagery and meaning into the church's design, as well as putting the utmost effort into each step to produce results that inspire spirituality and an atmosphere of worship, will be the primary focus. 


Redefining Tradition


Tradition plays a significant role in the process of building a Catholic church. It’s part of the Catholic church’s identity, and it is why Catholic churches stand out so much from churches in other denominations. As such, maintaining a traditional atmosphere and appearance is crucial. 


However, modern technology has also made it possible for us to innovate how that is achieved. 


We’ve talked extensively about the scanning technology streamlining the construction process, but it goes beyond that.


We can help you develop building details and decorations made from the latest materials and help you design your church in a way that helps save funds for operating the newly built church.


We can leverage our experience with the Catholic church to guide you toward a design that reflects the nature of such an important structure. 


If you’re planning to build a Catholic church or you want to renovate an existing church, contact Baker AIA today.

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