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UNLV Libraries -> Architecture Studies Library -> Las Vegas Guides and Collections ->
AIA Nevada Design & Service Awards Archive -> 2008 awards



Entry number: B08043
Project Name: Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
Building Type: Religious
Completion Date: February 2005
Architect: HMC Architects
Building Location: 2900 N. McCarran Blvd., Sparks, NV 89431

Design Team:
Electrical Engineer: Dinter Engineering
Landscape Architect: Stantec Consulting, Inc.
General Contractor: Q&D Construction, Inc.
Structural Engineer: Forbes & Dunagan
Civil Engineer: Stantec Consulting, Inc.
Interior Designer: HMC Architects
Photographer: Jeffrey Dow Photography
Geotechnical Engineer: Black Eagle Consulting, Inc.
Mechanical Engineer: Ainsworth Associates


Statement of Design Approach:
Through a series of workshops and design charrettes, we created a space and functional program that incorporated the design ideas of the parish. Through our site studies and with our conceptual diagrams, we developed solutions that fully incorporated these ideas and created the atmosphere the parish had envisioned. We created a place of worship that reflects the past but provides a warm and inviting environment to reinforce the beliefs for the future.

The Immaculate Conception Church is among the oldest parishes in Northern Nevada. Because of growth and celebration changes, the parish decided to construct a new church to better reflect their spiritual values. Over ten years, the parish gathered funds, acquired the site and conceptualized this new place of worship.

The parish wanted a modern church that reflected the past, incorporating old relics and mission-style architecture. So, through massing and materials, the exterior is a modern interpretation of mission-style architecture. White plaster walls are reminiscent of the white washed adobe walls of old, and stepped walls and arches are reminiscent of the buttressed walls of old. Stained glass windows from the old church were relocated to this new facility to help tell the story of this parish.

Because the site is on a hill above two major arterial streets with views into the valley below, the parish wanted to be protected from the busy streets while maintaining visibility to the community. To do so, the new facility is nestled against the rise at the northeast corner, rather than centered on the site. This creates maximum visibility to the community and to the optimum view, and allows site line connections from every point on the site.

To create a more personal and welcoming environment, u-shape pews surround the altar, giving every parishioner a connection to the priest. The ceiling is raised and collected into center ridge that guides your eyes to the altar and the crucifix. Through clerestories and stained glass windows, the light quality and intensity changes throughout the day, bringing the interior environment to life.

The entrance plaza is used for gatherings before and after services, as well as for Easter Mass. The rock fountain is a symbol of the water used during baptism. Above the entrance is the bell from the old church. Upon entering the place of worship, a baptismal font again recalls the waters of baptism and reflects the altar and crucifix. Behind the facility is a natural rock outcropping which was used to create a prayer path for personal meditation, solitude and reflection.

Because the church and hall were formerly separate, the new gathering hall is located just inside the entrance of the church. It acts as a common "foyer" leading to the place of assembly, the fellowship hall, and the multi-purpose hall, creating the sense of all church functions together as one.

Sustainable Description:
Immaculate Conception Church has a number of sustainable features. The building site was protected using the following strategies:

  • A soil erosion, waterway sedimentation and airborne dust generation protection plan was put in place prior to construction.
  • A detention basin is constructed to capture storm water runoff and allows for storm water to percolate into the ground.
  • There are 292 trees on the site or 21.5 trees per acre to shade developed land and reduce the heat island effect especially for the 339 parking spaces. A meditation garden also contributes to the reduction of the heat island effect.
  • The site uses cut-off lighting fixtures to minimize artificial light migration off site. These lights also reduce glare on the site to contribute to keeping the skies darker.

Water usage was minimized and air quality enhanced by:

  • The air conditioning system uses an air-cooled chiller which limits the use of water in the cooling system. The refrigeration system uses a zero ozone depletion factor coolant. Energy use was limited with the following approaches
  • Economizers installed on all HVAC units to allow for the use of outside air for cooling when those temperatures are outside adequate for cooling.
  • The building has DDC HVAC controls which allows for the building users to program the system to automatically turn and off the cooling and heating systems to fit the varied use schedule of the different areas of the building.
  • All lighting is either fluorescent, halogen or metal halide except for a few decorative incandescent light fixtures.
  • The walls have additional insulation, over and above the fiberglass batts in walls with the EIFS system which provides an additional 25% insulation.

Recycled material used in the church included:

  • 10% recycled fly ash was used in the concrete.
    Indoor Environmental Quality
  • A lighting control system is in the building and set up to limit the lighting used to only that required for the services being conducted. The system also includes dimming which further gives the users opportunities to reduce energy and extend lamp life.
  • The building uses high efficiency glass. This glass is low-e and has a high shading coefficient while being clear. This allows for a higher light transmittance in areas that use clerestory lighting to supplement the artificial lighting. The clear glazing also o ens u views in the multi use room.


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Material in ASL Library: Form Core Boards, Project Description Form, Exteriors Photos, Location Map, Site Plan, Floor Plan, and Interior Photos

These images are low-resolution reproductions of the images provided for the AIA Nevada Design Awards. All materials should be considered copyrighted and may not be reproduced or used without permission.

Monday, 17-Dec-2012 10:50:04 PST