Sagrado Corazon: Goodwill Meets Good Design

Sagrado Corazon: Goodwill Meets Good Design

If you were to visit Sagrado Corazon y Santa Maria Guadalupe Catholic Church 10 years ago, you wouldn’t find much in the way of a traditional worship space. For many years, the Sagrado Corazon parish, located in Cudahy, a blue-collar neighborhood south of Los Angeles, had gathered in a small, semi-outdoor, tin-roof chapel. Overcrowding and limited resources were a problem, as was the dirt parking lot where parishioners often found their vehicles stuck.

Despite an initial improvement to the parking lot nine years ago, the Sagrado Corazon parish of roughly 1,400 registered members still found their facilities lacking, and the necessary funds for improvement hard to come by.

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Keeping these factors in mind, Cuningham Group collaborated with the Sagrado Corazon parish to design a worship space that could fulfill both logistical and spiritual needs, while also being budget-conscious. The result: a 20,000-square-foot building, which includes a 625-seat worship space, commercial kitchen, classrooms, and support/office spaces.

The design of the new space reflects the parishioners’ Mexican heritage, embracing a Spanish Revival style. An outdoor plaza adds to the space’s flexibility, accommodating outdoor events and overflow at highly attended services. Operable windows and fans provide natural ventilation and skylights bring in natural light to enhance a connection to the outdoors.

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As one of the most financially disadvantaged parishes in the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Sagrado Corazon community was able to raise the funds for the project in large part due to the help of other, more financially established parishes within their pastoral region. By increasing their own capital campaigns, these parishes were able to help the Sagrado Corazon community reach their fundraising goal and realize their dream of a completely new building and site improvements.

Because of these financial limitations, the finished project helped to set a new bar for creating cost-effective worship spaces in the Archdiocese. At every opportunity, Cuningham Group and the contractor looked for ways to minimize construction costs without cutting corners. Cuningham Group also created a space that was sustainably viable, meeting California energy regulations (similar to LEED ‘Silver’ rating). To help achieve this, designers utilized elements like mat-slab foundation system, solar-reflective roofing, large suspended fans for cooling, dual glazing with low-e coating, and computer-controlled lighting systems. These features help ensure that Sagrado Corazon y Santa Maria Guadalupe will have structural and cultural longevity, a must-have in the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles where worship spaces last for almost a half century and demographics are constantly shifting.

A video of the finished project produced by Hoffman and Associates Building Corporation can be found here.

Before and After Sagrado Corazon