It’s been said that humans have a primordial need to build wooden structures, stemming from eons of building and living in them. The stunning millwork in St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Fairhope, AL fulfills that need, creating a feeling of warmth and security for its parishioners.
A contemporary, octagonal structure capable of accommodating 600 worshippers, the interior of the building mixes brickwork and millwork to achieve a warm but airy space.
Meranti Dark Red Seraya was the first choice for the millwork, due to its striking beauty and durability in the continually changing climate of the coastal location near Mobile Bay.
St. Lawrence Catholic Church faced a special challenge with its design: the 40-foot wood panels on the walls and ceiling needed variation and depth to avoid monotony and heft. Fortunately the beautiful grain and skilled custom millwork break up these substantial sections. Also, the gorgeous natural color of the Dark Red Seraya complements the pink/red tones of the brickwork, creating contrasting textures and producing an aesthetically pleasing mix.
The architects utilized gapped siding to show off the Meranti Dark Red Seraya and break up the large wall and soffit sections. Instead of placing the boards right next to each other, the designers left a space in between, highlighting the character of each individual plank.
Overseas Hardwoods Company’s Meranti Dark Red Seraya is known for its workability and its proficiency at remaining stable and lying flat in service.
The cupola in the center of the sanctuary lets in natural light, breaking up the paneling and playing up the differing appearance of the wood. Although the same wood species and the same finish was used for the panels and the cupola, the cupola looks quite distinct from the soffit. Meranti boasts a tight grain structure, allowing designers and builders to use the same species but achieve different looks, depending on the light.
Another interesting detail of the cupola are the decorative circles nestled between support beams. Intended merely as a point of interest, these circles speak to the workability of the wood. OHC’s Meranti provides a restrictive premium grade that includes PHAD (Pin Holes Are Defects), meaning architects and millwork companies have a greater latitude in design and creativity due to the absence of virtually all defects.