Our Lady of Grace

Aurora, Ontario




Larkin Architect Limited was originally commissioned to complete a building condition survey of the 1980’s Our Lady of Grace church located on Yonge Street in Aurora, Ontario. A long list of deferred maintenance identified in the report prompted further discussions by the parish to provide much needed improvements to the worship experience, site planning, building systems, and barrier-free accessibility within the building.

The designed interventions to the church had to address two significant obstacles. The first was that the church was built using residential construction methods as a cost savings measure. This resulted in an uncharacteristically low ceiling within the worship space. The internal expression of transcendent sacred space was also diminished by the use of small, residential style windows and light fixtures. The narthex serving the worship space was too small to accommodate its hospitality and liturgical functions and failed to provide a safe and elegant barrier-free transition from grade to the worship level. The second obstacle was that the architectural vocabulary of its exterior design was more suited to a southern plantation than a Roman Catholic Church.

Larkin Architect Limited’s solution to the first obstacle was to create large dormers at each of the window locations to increase the feeling of height within the worship space, and more than double the exposure to natural light and views to the surrounding landscape.

The solution to the second obstacle was to remove the offending architectural elements and create a new, expanded narthex incorporating a bell tower and spire, recognizable elements of a Catholic Church.

Functionally, the new, light-filled narthex also facilitated an elegant, barrier-free transition from the north and south parking lots to the worship space and parish hall/meeting rooms below.

These interventions consisted of strategic insertions, repairs, renovations, and removals to efficiently adapt and transform the existing building. The result provides the parish with what is essentially a “new” church facility that will serve them for generations to come.