Scenes From Tour Of New Unitarian Church

Architect Shiree McKenzie is a Los Alamos High School graduate now designing buildings including the new Unitarian Church under construction at 1738 North Sage St. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
 
Unitarian Church Emeritus Minister Dale Arnink, left, leads a tour of the nearly completed Unitarian Church on Sage. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
 
Unitarian Church Emeritus Minister Dale Arnink, left, points out ceiling features during a tour of the nearly completed Unitarian Church on Sage. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
 
By CAROL A. CLARK
Los Alamos Daily Post

Architect Shiree McKenzie was on hand Sunday, Feb. 21 as church officials opened the new building to members of the congregation and broader community for guided tours.

McKenzie told the Los Alamos Daily Post during the tour that she moved to Los Alamos with her family when she was just one year old.

“It’s really great to have the opportunity to work on projects in Los Alamos,” she said. “We’re also doing the renovations at Fuller Lodge.”

McKenzie graduated from Los Alamos High School in 2004, earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees in arcitecture from UNM and is now designing buildings including the new Unitarian Church under construction at 1738 North Sage St.

“I work for Mullen Heller Architecture PC in Albuquerque. It is a six-person firm and two of us are from Los Alamos,” McKenzie said. “Antonio Vigil also graduated from Los Alamos High School.”

Mullen Heller is a diverse architecture firm that specializes in comprehensive architectural and interior design, and master planning. The firm currently has on  call contract with Los Alamos County.

Local facilities designed by Mullen Heller Design:

  • 2014: PEEC Nature Center;
  • 2013: Los Alamos Smart House on Trinity Drive;
  • 2012: White Rock Visitor Center on N.M. 4;
  • 2011: Redeemer Lutheran Church on
  • Diamond Drive; and
  • 2008: Los Alamos County Animal Shelter on East Road.

McKenzie now lives in Albuquerque with her husband and baby. She travels to Los Alamos weekly to meet on the Unitarian project with the church planning committee.

The total cost of the new 12,000-square-foot Unitarian Church is $3.45 million. The building is a one-story structure and will offer many amenities for outside groups renting space for their activities. It’s designed to retain the beautiful mountain view from the sanctuary, which is situated in approximately the same location on the lot as was the former building. The sanctuary is increasing in size to 175 seating capacity, up from 110 seats.

“There is lots of room to grow. There is room for each of you and any friends you want to bring,” Emeritus Minister Dale Arnink has said.

The former building dated back to the Manhattan Project, when it was built as one of two temporary dormitories separated by Tulip Street, which no longer exists. Church archives reveal a letter dated February of 1959 from the Zia Corporation regarding the renewal of the congregation’s lease on the building that stated, “Consideration must be given to the fact that this building is a temporary war-time structure of the type being removed from the permanent townsite area as rapidly as possible and that it cannot remain on location indefinitely.”
After purchasing the building, the congregation made extensive renovations, including removing part of the second floor to create the sanctuary and adding the solarium at the main entrance. The size and condition of the aging structure has been at issue for several decades, and the congregation voted in 2008 to actively pursue building a new church.

Prior to demolition of the old building, some artifacts were salvaged by the Los Alamos Historical Society for inclusion in their archives, and other materials were donated to the Habitat ReStore.

Judy McKenzie of Los Alamos said she is really glad because it gives her a chance to see her daughter more often. Construction on the church is scheduled for completion in May.

 

Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
 
Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
 

Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

The new Unitarian Church will feature an earthtone color scheme. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

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