We don't know if you worship on Sunday or sleep in the like the rest of us. (And frankly, we don't care.)
But chances are, you can appreciate good design when you see it. While we've taken the time to pay tribute the coolest buildings in metro Phoenix, from hospitals to banks, auditoriums to office high-rises, churches in the Valley deserve a category all their own. Whether you're looking to drive by or drop in, here are 10 structures that scream, "Holy moly."
There's more to Valley Presbyterian than meets the eye. From McDonald Road, drivers by can view the Kilgore Chapel completed in 1983 and featuring angular radiating beams and stained glass by artists Robert McCall. Further back, along Quail Run Road, the campus' older and, in our opinion, more interesting structure comes into view: the 800-seat sanctuary. Erected in 1966, the building features massive concrete beams, slanting roofs, and decorative stone brought down from Prescott. The campus was designed by Philadelphia architect Harold E. Wagoner and its oldest buildings dates back to 1958.
It's hard not to notice the Capestone Cathedral located at the very busy commercial intersection of Tatum and Shea boulevards. The religious pyramid structure that seats 4,000 people is has an appearance as bizarre as its origin. It was built in 1968 by pastor Neal Frisby. Frisby, a former alcoholic and barber, claimed that God told him to build his cathedral in what was at the time considered a desert no man's land. Upon his death in 2005, Frisby ended up handing over the cathedral to a man he hardly knew, former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Robert Brooks. Given Frisby's eccentricity, it didn't really seem that out of character.
The Asbury United Methodist Church may be small, seating only 74 people, but it sure is sweet. The pink and white 1967 structure designed by architect Mel Ensign was modeled to resemble a crown for Jesus, but thanks to its girly color and its frosting-white top, the West Valley venue has been aptly nicknamed the "cupcake chapel." We imagine this is where Care Bears would go to pray. Unfortunately, the church is no longer in operation.
Although the drawings for the campus were publicly released in 1950 by Frank Lloyd Wright, First Christian Church wasn't constructed until 1973. That's because Wright had originally created the deisgns for the Phoenix-based Christian Seminary, which shut down operations before construction could even begin. First Christian Church was able to get permission from Wright's widow (Wright having died in 1959) to use the blueprints for their own congregation. The despite being completed posthumously, the campus has Wright's fingerprints all over it, from the four-sided spire that extends 77 feet high and creates the optical illusion of movement to the building material: native stone and concrete.
If you're not Mormon and you didn't get a chance to tour the inside of the building back in February of 2014 like New Times contributor Robrt Pela did, chances are, you're not stepping foot in the Gilbert Mormon Temple. Don't beat yourself up too much, however. The Latter-Day Saints' temple leaves plenty to admire on the outside. Its fairytale façade features white quartz and a 195-foot spire that can be seen well before reaching the church parking lot, or even the block.
St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church
We've got to hand it to architect Wendell E. Rossman for really thinking out of the box with this 1972 creation. The exterior's circular sequence of shells and curved beams cascading over the top of the building bring to mind an illustration of an atom. The inside is no less curious with pink walls to match the outside and a series of high-domed ceilings that make you feel like you're inside a spaceship or perhaps someone's indeterminate organ. If the designers were going for otherworldly, they kind of nailed it.
Glass and Garden Church
Right around the corner from the St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church is the Glass and Garden Church. This church in the round, built with the help of architect E. Logan Campbell and pastor Floyd Goulooze in 1966, is characterized with curved lines adorning the sides of the building like streamers, obtuse diamonds decorating the roof's trim, a shelled entrance, and a grid-like placement of windows to add some linear balance. Sadly, the building is no longer painted white with hints of sea foam, but rather various shades of orange (grr...). And the garden, for which the building originally gets its name, is no longer located inside. Regardless, we still love to look at this church as we drive down McDonald.
A lot of fine architects went into making the very sharp Shepherd of the Valley Church throughout its various stages of completion from 1958 to 2006, including Ralph Haver, Harold Swanson, Dean Rendahl, Peter Lendrum, Thomas Hunt, and Don Ryden. The most eye-catching building on the 10-acre site is easily the sanctuary, which reaches 82 feet at its peak and features stained glass designed by the Los Angeles-based Judson Studios.
If you feel like the Ascension Lutheran Church has a slight Frank Lloyd Wright quality to it, you wouldn't be entirely off base. The 1964 structure was the work of architect William Wesley Peters, Frank Lloyd Wright's son-in-law and fellowship apprentice. The campus centers around a pentagonal sanctuary with a 140-foot metal spire that, from an aerial view, is made to look like a cross surrounded by stars.
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St. Vincent de Paul
For those who harbor a special love for Ralph Haver, consider St. Vincent de Paul your new place of worship. The 1958 school, church, and residence offers dramatically slanted roofs with wide overhangs and tons of Superlite blocks (the decorative concrete blocks you'll find on many Haver homes). Sure, it may not reach for the sky like some of the churches on this list, nor does it come in any funky colors (or any colors for that matter -- it's mostly concrete), but it's a well-preserved gem on the West side that even the mildest of mid-century enthusiasts can appreciate.
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version.