Church of St. Pius X, Old Tappan, NJ
The building is sited so that the primary vehicular approach is not through the parking lot, but by way of a separate drive that offers a more picturesque view of the building. This enables the building to avoid being overwhelmed by the parking lot that is concealed from view from from the street. Passengers may be immediately dropped off at the entrance loggia or the driver and passengers may proceed to the parking lot, where they gather on foot up along a central allèe of trees within the body of the parking lot, which is on axis to the main building entrance at the terminus of the loggia.
The narthex serves as the interior space for the remembering of the community and yet another spatial transition along the procession for worship. It is the interior “town square” that facilitates the core of activity where all parish complex components converge.
Entrances to the worship space flank the baptismal font. The stained glass curtain wall is conceived in aquatic graphic form as the parting waters of the Red Sea (more transparent at the font than at the reconciliation chapels for reasons of anonymity in the reconciliation chapels). The font greets those entering the worship space with living water. It accommodates full adult immersions at the lower pool and infant immersion baptisms at the upper vessel, whose water flows at an easy rate, just enough to softly glisten the outer shell, into a trough below, and spilling inaudibly into the lower pool. Under the font’s engraved pavement stones are entombed the names of parishioners who came before the new construction, either baptized or buried at the former church building.
The worship space commands a view of Lake Tappan to the north. The window glass is a composition of fritted plate, remy, and full restoration glass, employed to somewhat veil the view and reduce glare. The liturgical seating plan is concentric and gathered around the altar, which is placed directly under a graduating and segmented dome that terminates into a lantern. The seating plan is an expression of the Augustinian dictum on the Eucharist that “you receive what you already are.” The bench furniture has also been designed by AJSA, inspired by English park benches in oak, shaped and bent to suit ergonomics without upholstery that would otherwise quiet the naturally reverberating acoustics.
At the direction of the Ordinary, the tabernacle for the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament has an axial relationship with the altar upon entrance. The tabernacle, sanctuary cross framework, and the art-glass reredos are all designed to align and register with each other when they are approached from the entrance, on axis. Once at the pews, the axial relationships burst apart.