St. Michael
Church and

Saint Michael Parish
Lincoln, NE
Completion date
September 2022

A blend of architecture and art that creates an iconic home for worship and allows for future expansion of educational spaces. 

Situated on 14 acres of land in a rapidly growing corner of Lincoln, Nebraska sits St. Michael Parish. This 100-year-old church has been a presence within the community for decades, working to advance its mission to "Courageously advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the work of His Church" through worship, community outreach and PreK-8 education.    

In 2011, the parish moved to its current location as part of a phased expansion. Phase I of the expansion centered around the needs of children and families and resulted in the construction of a PreK-8 grade school; for Phase II, the parish engaged RDG Planning & Design to develop design solutions that would respond to St. Michael's continued growth and strengthen its support of the Catholic community in southeast Lincoln. RDG's resulting design, a blend of art and architecture, creates a permanent and iconic space where parishioners can come together and worship.   

Creating a Holistic Campus  

RDG's design encompasses a new 750-seat modern baroque-style structure and the addition of a dedicated junior high area to the school. To establish a holistic campus feel, the design incorporates the same brick exterior across the church and school buildings and leverages the existing bell tower as a transition point between the two structures. 

The additional detail of the tower elevates the stone detailing and trim work of the church form in a natural progression of hierarchy. A prominent entry porch supported by Corinthian columns to the north allows the current school entry to extend east in an elongated entry plaza for both church and school. As visitors wrap east and south, the building grade falls away to reveal a limestone veneer, visually anchoring the high church volume to the lower-level grade below. High rose windows on the east and west transepts provide a terminus to the form and invitation to the surrounding neighborhood. The volume of the nave and sanctuary extends above the lower-hipped roofs that cover the support and meeting room spaces.    

A Sacred Space that Blends Architecture and Art   

Moving inside through the main entry, high narthex ceilings framed by ornate trim provide opportunities for the future placement of new artwork. In the center of the volume sits a baptismal font, which is made of marble from Carrara, Italy, and depicts scenes of baptism in bas-relief casts of bronze, a nod to the Cathedral of the Risen Christ baptismal font.     

Corinthian columns flank the sides of the narthex and define the threshold between sacred spaces and meeting rooms. Inside the nave, ceilings soar to more than 30 feet and feature stenciled coffers and high windows. These elements draw the eye upward toward a 32-foot diameter oval mural depicting the Communion of Saints surrounding the Holy Trinity. The eye drops from the mural to the elevated sanctuary where a future mural across the apse will depict the Crucifixion of Christ.     

At the base of the cross sits the marble tabernacle, a miniature of the architecture of the church building. To the left is the marble ambo and centered is the marble altar. Furnishings are constructed out of polished White Carrara with polished Giallo Siena marble columns, while the face of the altar hosts a bronze relief of the Paschal Lamb surrounded by seraphim crying Sanctus. To the sides of the center of the nave are Corinthian pilasters defining the ambulatory aisles and set to support lunettes hosting murals of the Stations of the Cross. Bookending the transepts are stained oak confessionals whose form and volume complement the interior and exterior architecture. The whole of the space is completed with painted, ornate trim work styled after Baroque patterns and details.