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Solomon Awards 2018 – St. Elizabeth’s University Parish John Saleh Catholic Student Center (Church Design, Gathering and Community Spaces)

In May 2018, St. Elizabeth University Parish in Lubbock, Texas held a dedication service for the new John Saleh Catholic Student Center. St. Elizabeth has a long tradition of ministering to students on the Texas Tech University Campus. And through the generous endowment of the late John Saleh, the church was able completely pay for the new student center.

2018 Solomon Awards winner.

Since the Student Center was designed around the needs of a thriving college ministry, the design team and building committee met with the 12 student organizations that make up their ministry, learned what they needed, and planned how best to shape the spaces to make their ministries effective. Additionally, across from the student center was the first parish hall for St. Elizabeth, which was built in 1935 and is on the Texas Historical Registry.

The challenge was tying the new student building into the rich history while also making the space feel like a student center. The result was a building that held the rich architectural style of the Spanish mission-style campus. The inside of the new student center is highlighted with several large wooden trusses that pay homage to the 1935 wood beam ceiling, but the chandeliers are a modern take on the candelabra-style light fixtures. The northwest corner of the commons area was opened up with large glass windows that overlook a patio, giving the outside some of the same mission style features with a modern twist. The design is transparent, so passing students can see inside to what God is doing in the lives of the students.

PSC designed each space to serve multiple purposes, so the building can be used throughout the week instead of just for Sunday and Wednesday. Study areas, conference rooms, and seminar spaces double as classroom space for Sunday school. The large commons area gives the students a place to hang out and relax as well as worship and praise God. The 7,000-square-foot hangout space will also double as a worship venue on Wednesday for prayer and praise and can be rented out for parties, banquets, receptions, and quinceañeras as a source of income. The catering kitchen will serve meals to the students, the church body, and anyone who might want to rent the space. The student organization space is in the center of the building, so any of the 12 organizations can work on projects to spread the word of God to the Texas Tech University campus.

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