By Edith Cherry and James See – August 28, 2019
1100 Indian School Rd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87102
Access: 505 242-5942 | Visitors must check in at the church office
Unique among the city’s churches for its triangular design, St. Paul Lutheran Church overlooks Albuquerque’s downtown from the edge of the East Mesa. The sanctuary has a structural system unique in Albuquerque, and perhaps New Mexico. The roof is supported by cables that form a “Y” (see diagram, below). One cable is fastened at the west and highest end. This cable drapes toward the center and connects to two cables fastened on the east wall, focusing on the center of worship. Where the cables are joined, a triangular skylight is placed. These cables, supporting the large wooden beams, form portions of parabolic curves, thus generating the curved lines of the roof. The curved wooden ceilings make a dramatic interior space.
The sanctuary building includes many Christian symbols: the triangular shape recalls the Holy Trinity, and there are crosses in the west peak and below the central skylight. Narrow, vertical stained glass windows enhance the sanctuary space. A tiny chapel is located in the south vertex.
The carved wooden cross hanging below the skylight, the altar, lectern, candle holders, and other liturgical pieces as well as the entry doors were sculpted by Max Chavez, a renowned New Mexican wood carver.
Architect: Flatow, Moore, Bryan, and Fairburn, Architects
Contractor: seeking info*
Landscape Architect & Contractor: The Hilltop Landscape Architects and Contractors
note: At St. Paul Lutheran Church the structural curves are parabolic because the weight is not distributed evenly along the curve as is the case with a catenary structure.
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