The decision to build a new church was finalized in 2001. After a search process and competition, the Passionist community commissioned Roberto Chiotti (Larkin Architect) with the design of the new church. Chiotti is a Canadian architect who is also trained in theology, especially in eco-theology arising from the wisdom of Father Thomas Berry — the Passionist thinker whose work inspired many in the ecological movement around the world.
After its completion in 2006, the new church of St Gabriel’s became the first church in Canada to receive Gold certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED™) Green Building Rating System.
“While reducing energy costs was one of the reasons for building a ‘green’ church, our primary motivation was to establish a link between the sacredness of the gathered community of Faith and the sacredness of the Earth.” stated Father Paul, our Pastor.
This is precisely what Chiotti attempts to express in his design. He explains: “The entire south façade of the worship space at St. Gabriel’s is glazed with clear glass. This has been done in order to passively harness the winter sun’s energy and to extend the sacred space of the worship area into the sacred space of the world beyond, emphasizing that when we gather to worship, we do so within the greater context of creation. The remaining three walls of exposed architectural concrete serve as a constantly changing canvas for the dynamic play of natural light that is filtered by the coloured glass panels of the continuous perimeter skylight.”
To learn more about the eco-theology behind the church and its application, these two articles in the Celebrate Liturgy magazine may be of interest to you:
St. Gabriel’s Church: A LEED™ church building project #1 (deals with theology)
St. Gabriel’s Church: A LEED™ church building project #2 (deals with practical application)