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Holy Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Church

Project Location: Norcross, Georgia
Completion Date: 2019

The Holy Vietnamese Catholic Church’s congregation was looking for a new sacred worship space that would celebrate the church’s unique American Vietnamese Catholic culture and religion. Sizemore Group addressed the design in an authentic and meaningful way to create a house fitting for God while remaining intimate to the human experience.

As the Vietnamese Catholic population continues to rapidly bloom, the church needed to replace the small space in which they held services. The congregation was moving from their current makeshift 600-person church in a closed car dealership to a nine-acre site on top of a hill overlooking a heavily trafficked Atlanta interstate.

The new church was to be a landmark for the Vietnamese Catholic culture and religion. With a design directive to honor the 118 Vietnamese Martyrs, the design team painstakingly sought to identify genuine ways to incorporate cultural elements – while honoring the church’s relatively small budget.

Every element of design – interior and exterior – was thoughtfully considered, prioritizing meaningful cultural elements over architectural fashion.

  • A 118-sq-ft steeple that rises at the center of the cruciform benefits from the church’s location at one of the highest sites in the county. The steeple can be seen for miles along I-85 through metro Atlanta. As the immigrant population continues to come of age, the church’s site on top of a hill allows its steeple to boldly shine as a beacon of change in a sacred way.

  • The exterior form blends elements of a traditional catholic cruciform church and Vietnamese churches, including the Vietnamese symbolic gateway of three stacked forms reaching to the sky representing the church on earth, man on earth, and our heavenly Father. The 1,200-seat nave is a four-story cruciform that is visually supported by giant arches in the shape of praying hands as well as the shape of a boat, which represents the many who escaped Vietnam to religious freedom. The boat expression was furthered with the use of a plank wood decking for the nave ceiling.

  • The center aisle floor pattern represents the mats used to dismember the Vietnamese martyrs. The seven sacraments are represented by the five mats, the baptismal font, and the altar.
  • The facility needed to have the flexibility to comfortably host future celebrations and services as the Vietnamese population grows throughout the Southeast. One such event is the church’s annual festival, which grew from 25,000 to 40,000 attendees in four years and is expected to continue to increase.