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ST. CECELIA CHURCH

Iselin, New Jersey

Description 

The site for this Catholic Church is comprised of two city blocks. One is the site for the new church, and the other situates the parish school, the convent, and the diocesan administration building. The two blocks were unified by transformation of the street which divided them into a pedestrian garden. The primary entry consists of a formal portico and landscaped entry plaza facing east, with a monumental window and bowed brick wall above the mahogany entrance doors. The main entrance of the school generates an axial side entry into the baptistry.

 

The initial reading of the church exterior is an ascension of forms embracing the baptistry space. A continuous roof spine which constitutes a formal link between two functions, or centers, of the church which are historically related: the baptistry and the nave, each identified by a four-gable skylight.

Physical entry into the church coincides symbolically with one's spiritual initiation into Christian fellowship through the presence and spatial elaboration of the baptistry. This place for the rite of baptism and parish assembly takes on significance as the beginning to all events in the church. From the baptistry one can access the mezzanine, the daily chapel, private meditation and reconciliation rooms, offices, support spaces, and the nave.

 

The nave seats 900 people assembled around a raised sanctuary, with floor sloping down gently from the colonnade. The choir platform forms an unobstructed bridge between the sanctuary and the colonnade, for barrier-free access.

 

In addition to the church, architect's office also developed the designs for the stations of the cross millwork, the reconciliation screens, sanctuary furnishings, organ pipe cabinet, and the baptismal font.