Saint John Paul II National Shrine - Redemptor Hominis Chruch
The Knights of Columbus purchased a building with the intent to build the first national shrine in the USA dedicated to the late Saint John Paul II. In order for a place to become an official national shrine, the Catholic Church in Rome must meet rigorous criteria in every aspect of the project. Our initial job—which began in 2012—was simple in scope. We had a $15 million budget to manage the creation of a museum quality exhibit on Pope John Paul II, but in the process of working on the project, we gained the trust of the ownership, and the scope expanded into an $80 mllion undertaking.
Preparing for a Visit From the New Pope
The Knights of Columbus hired us to create their headquarters in Washington, D.C. and to simultaneously construct a 500-seat chapel. The stakes were high. Pope Benedict was set to make the historic first visit to the nation’s capital Washington D.C., and they needed an event space, chapel, and church commensurate with the occasion.
The owners initially assumed that they would have to pay for the construction of an entirely new building. As we studied the options, we came up with an inventive fix. Why not simply use space within the existing building more efficiently? We set about working with architects and contractors to move and delete the existing monumental ramp system, all the while ensuring that this intricate work was code compliant. After demolition and rebuilding, we saved the Knights of Columbus at least $7 million, and they were able to incorporate their chapel into the exisiting structure.
Benjamin Forgey, Architecture Critic for The Washington Post, called the Shrine “an architectural landmark of a high order - an at-times exhilarating demonstration of architecture's power to move the soul."
Mosaic and Tile Work: Imported From Italy
One of the most inspiring pieces of this project involved selecting the artisans and coordinating the installation of the original mosaics. The selected Italian monks handcrafted statues and tile work displaying biblical scense to completely cover the walls and structural columns. We managed the building to ensure it was properly lit; that all the tiles shipped from Italy were accounted for; and that all other preparations for the installation were handled. During the process of shipping the precious art across the Atlantic, a 400 pound statue of John Paul II was misplaced. Our team sprang into action to track it down. Within 3 weeks, the monastic artists were scheduled to do their installation.
The client continues to work with our project managers to build out additional exhibits—for example, on Thomas Moore—to get the most value out of ever square inch of the facility.
Patrick Kelly, the Executive Director of the Shrine, wrote: “Throughout the multiple reconstructions of the physical plant that have been necessary to transform this facility, [Glen] has proven to be a critical partner in analyzing each need and providing expert advice in prioritizing projects, managing costs and risks, and presenting options on target with our objectives. In this way, they have integrated themselves seamlessly into our daily operations and have truly become an indispensible part of our team.”