After an arsonist burned the Gothic Revival St. Paul's Cathedral (1832, Ammi B. Young; altar and chapel, John Henry Hopkins) in February 1971, the Episcopal diocese exchanged their lot at St. Paul and Bank streets for a full city block across from the battery (clearing the way for the development of Burlington Square Mall). Among six competing firms, Burlington Associates was selected to design a new cathedral. Dedicated in November 1973, the Brutalist church marks its corner as a spartan, blocky concrete sculpture inspired by the work of Louis Kahn in its clear articulation of component parts and construction. The sanctuary is bounded by corner towers, one of which rises as a campanile and contains the bells salvaged from the old church. Abutting this are the smaller volumes of the blocky chancel, angled narthex (now chapel) and gallery, and a low elongated wing that contains offices and meeting rooms. The concrete structure is textured by its vertical formwork and scored with an insistent scale-giving geometry of joints. Closed and bunker-like toward the city streets, the church opens to a southwestern garden and views of Lake Champlain. The spare, slate-floored and concrete-coffered sanctuary is flooded with light from clerestories and an entire south wall of glass. It is furnished with movable modular wooden chairs and altar that permit its reconfiguration for services and concerts. The cross prominently displayed on the wall behind the altar is fabricated from metal spikes and hand-wrought nails salvaged from the fire.
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Cathedral Church of St. Paul
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