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Crane Action at St. Damien

Territorial Architects News Release

Community Contributed

What is going on behind that black fence across from the post office? Resurrection. Behind the construction fence at 115 Ala Malama, there is an intense construction effort underway to build the new St. Damien of Molokai Catholic Church. Since early January, Nordic PCL Construction has been hard at work constructing a new worship center for the Molokai Catholic Community on the recent ashes of the old St. Sophia plantation church, scheduled for completion in December. This week, concrete walls will be raised into place with a crane.

The new 6,000 square foot building, constructed of a concrete exterior shell with exposed steel roof assembly, is designed to house an open plan worship space (nave), thrust stage sanctuary and sacristy, four multi-purpose rooms, restrooms, bell tower, and a sheltered, raised entry courtyard (narthex). The architecture attempts to reflect upon and expand in modern context the design features St. Damien incorporated in the churches he personally build on Molokai: intimate seating spaces, elevated sanctuary, high vaulted ceilings, narrow pointed arch openings, and iconic bell tower.

Concrete and steel were selected as the primary structural materials because of the St. Damien Catholic Parish building committees’ heightened sensitivity to fire prevention, as well as issues of maintenance, termite resistance, energy efficiency, sound abatement and lower shipping costs for materials by using on-island concrete production. Further costs savings are reflected by the extensive structural components, for enhancements to interior and exterior finishes during future fundraising campaigns.

The method of construction for such a concrete building was chosen to be the concrete “tilt-up” technique: individual wall panels are formed on the flood slabs, inlayed with steel reinforcement bars, poured with concrete, let to cure and gain strength, then lifted into place by means of an overhead cane. Once these perimeter walls are vertically plumb, braced, welded together at their corners, and connected by another perimeter footing, then the steel roof frame ties all the pieces together to stabilize a structural skeletal frame ready to receive the many layers of roofing, siding, windows, doors, interior and exterior finishes.

The finished building and religious community service it will nurture intend to continue St. Damien’s commitment to the communities of topside Molokai.

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