Mary's Roman Catholic Church
6 McMillan Avenue
by Arran Timms (Sacred Spaces, in AlbertaViews magazine, Nov/Dec 2001) as
a design that 'that far and away predates Frank Gehry's contemporary,
titanium-clad sculptural musings at Bilbao', this brick-clad building
stands in the bland suburbs of a small prairie city, and provides an
astonishingly graceful contrast. The entire structure - the walls, the
roofline, even the roof itself - is curved. The arcs of the long west
wall, the vertical curves of the bell tower, the rounded towers of the
confessionals, everything about the building seems organic and melded to
the prairie landscape and its tall skies.
the church is built in the round and the exposed brick is largely
unadorned. The floor slopes irresistibly toward the altar and the pulpit,
and both are illuminated by a pair of deep skylights that seem to be
natural extrusions of the ceiling, which itself echoes the slope of the
floor. The ceiling is supported only by a row of narrow columns toward the
back of the church. Almost every element inside the church reinforces the
sinuous exterior of the building and no doubt contributes to its quiet
ambience and remarkable acoustics.
church is an early work by Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal, who
rejected a controversial addition to the church made in 1995. A native
Canadian Metis, Cardinal is probably best known for the Museum of
Civilization in Ottawa.
Nigel Brachi 2002 (updated 2009)
How to visit
Red Deer Alberta is about half
way between Calgary and Edmonton, just off Highway 2. The church is in the eastern part of the
city at the corner of 38 St and Mitchell Ave, about 5 minutes from the main
north-south axis of the city. It is open to visitors on weekdays from 10am - 4pm;
use the south entrance. To check opening times call +1 403 347 3114.