St. Bartholemew's Catholic Church
San Diego, CA
New Dimension Masonry, Inc.
Architect: Kevin deFreitas Architects, AIA
General Contractor: Lusardi Construction Company
Suppliers: RCP Block & Brick, Inc.
Owner: Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians
Located in the picturesque backcountry of northern San Diego, St. Bartholomew’s Chapel was very small and intimate historic chapel. Originally constructed to serve the Rincon Band of Mission Indians, it was tragically destroyed by wild fires that ravaged the reservation in late 2007. With the needs of the congregation and community having changed over the past 100 years, the destroyed building presented an opportunity to update the chapel and to add a separate multi purpose fellowship hall. The area between the two buildings created a welcomed third space, a serene outdoor contemplation courtyard.
In keeping with the original structure, which lasted over 100 years, the client specifically requested a structure and skin that was designed to be highly fire resistant, and constructed of long lasting, highly durable materials. Most of the complex features exposed finished materials that are sustainable and rated for long life cycles.
Mimicking the original structure, New Dimension Masonry, built two 60-foot long, 20-feet tall, and 2 feet thick rammed earth walls that flank the sanctuary. They were made from 120 tons of dirt that was harvested directly on site. The earth walls were symbolically important because sacred soil from the reservation was literally molded to form these beautifully textured and organic walls. The rammed earth walls are also reminiscent of the adobe construction found throughout the reservation. Both the oak wood used in the Altar furnishings and a four-ton boulder for the baptismal fonts were harvested from the Reservation. There are no painted surfaces on the exterior and virtually no drywall or paint on the interiors. In addition there are no glued-down floor covering, which greatly improves the indoor air quality. The wood veneered aluminum ceiling system has a very high recycled content, as does the concrete masonry block walls of the fellowship hall, and the concrete slab flooring throughout. All the base material from beneath the parking and drive areas was created from 100% recycled content.
The Fellowship Hall was built with a four color variation of CMU that blends into the surrounding valley with a random pattern of colors. The 87 light portholes in the CMU on the East Side are filled with custom blue glass. These 8”x2” prisms help reveal the natural daylight as congregation gathers for their daily fellowship.
As a gift to the Rincon Reservation Community, the late 1800’s Bell Tower was artfully repaired and restored by the crews of New Dimension Masonry to help preserve the spirit of the original church. The Owner, Architect, General Contractor and Subcontractors came together to give the community a renewed sense of pride in their place of worship.
The result is a facility that is beautiful and sustainable- giving a sense of pride, performance, and one which is worthy of your award.
Date of Project Completion: March 2010
Photography by Kevin deFreitas