Saint Francis de Sales, Church and Rectory

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Saint Francis de Sales, Church and Rectory

East and South Elevation (No. 5)

Drawings   103  browse all »

Design Development Drawings
Narthex Confessionals
Preliminary Baptistry and Narthex Drawings

Photographs   74  browse all »

View of Southeast Corner of Church from Atrium Court
Partial West Elevation with Figures
Interior Detail at Sanctuary

Correspondence   4  browse all »


Frank Kacmarcik, the art consultant for Saint John’s Abbey, suggested Breuer to the community at Saint Francis de Sales in Muskegon, Michigan when they began to contemplate building a new church and rectory. Breuer and his associate, Herbert Beckhard, designed the striking church with its tilted, revolving hyberbolic-parabaloid walls in 1963. Construction was complete by the end of 1966, when the congregation celebrated their first mass in the new building. Skylights illuminate the sheer, windowless concrete walls of the church, whose exterior reveal the pattern of the formboards used to create them. An enclosure for bells projects from the apex of the building and is echoed inside by the cantilevered canopy over the altar, whose backdrop is the vertical ribs that support the concrete walls. The interior also features a balcony cantilevered from four wedge-shaped columns. Breuer connects the monumental sanctuary that rises to 85 feet to two lower volumes: a low, narthex on axis with the sanctuary and a larger rectory perpendicular to the other spaces. The rectory incorporates sunscreens of terracotta flue tiles similar to those used at Hunter College. The church was one of several religious projects from this phase of Breuer’s career that relied on hyberbolic-parabaloid structures, including the Olgiata Parish Church and the Kent School Girl’s Chapel.