Good Shepherd Church
This church in Miami, Florida, is located amidst suburban residential development that lacks well-defined public space. A central plaza, shaped by the new church and the existing multi-purpose and administration buildings, attempts to establish a new urban context. A tower marks the main entry into the church and is the focal point of the plaza. A future school will complete the complex and the plaza.
The design of the church illustrates two parish perspectives regarding the nature of the worship space, which reveal a liturgical dichotomy present in the modern Catholic Church. A sizable portion of the congregation subscribes to the traditional liturgical interpretation that is expressed in the design of churches with tall, linear, and symmetrical naves. The other faction supports the contemporary, post-Vatican II liturgical approach of gathering the congregation around the altar in an almost circular configuration to encourage greater participation. The desire to reconcile these two contrary directives yielded the two principal spaces: a traditional long, tall, and narrow narthex with the entry tower at one end and the baptismal font at its center; and a square nave containing the worship space with its altar surrounded by the assembly on three sides. Numerological symbolism structures the spaces, from the basic 7’ planning module, to the 12 columns that demarcate the nave, representing the original twelve apostles.
In the assembly spaces, the sound amplification system and the air conditioning vents are concealed behind a series of screened and louvered panels that occur beneath the tall clerestory windows. The frames for these panels are made of aluminum to match the mullions of the windows above. The tall nave and narthex spaces (38’ and 52’) are air conditioned only from a height of approximately 15 feet, minimizing the cooling costs of the building. The warm air, which rises above the seated assembly, can be vented through operable panels in the upper part of the clerestories. Through these and through the ambulatory windows, natural cross-ventilation throughout the building is possible.