Steeling the Thunder: Lifting the Lidon America’s Contemporary Church Designs

Cleanliness is supposedly next to Godliness, and there’s no denying that the clean lines associated with steel constructs lend themselves to congregational worship on various platforms and levels. And where more normally you might have once seen quintessential American churches crafted from white-painted clapboard (as popular in New England), red bricks and other more traditional materials and methods, today you’re just as likely to observe a far more contemporary look and feel to the nation’s places of cross-denominational worship. Steel is certainly enjoying its well-deserved time in the religiously-themed architectural spotlight in terms of popping up across America in the guise of churches, and understandably so when realising how effortlessly it ticks the required boxes. Practicality, versatility, simplicity of construct; these are all key components readily describing the popularity of steel in the context of US churches and help to explain why it’s enjoying its only renaissance period.

It’s all part of the natural evolution process when you look at the subject more closely, as were once back in the pantheons of time it was all about shaping and moulding the future of US religions around Gothic revival and red-bricked, white-pillared colonial structures, this accepted design language eventually gave way to the timely emergence of new materials on the congregational block during the 1950s and 60s; namely brick, clay, stone and solid wood, which succeeded the more conservative constructional values used earlier. Inevitably as a country built to a large extent on the steel industry expanded its religious horizons as well as it’s architectural ones, a marriage of these two factors would be hard to resist.

Armstrong Steel Continues to Spread the Word                     

Prefabricated steel buildings can and habitually are originated to house classrooms, counselling and youth centres, conference rooms, administrative hubs and choir and music recital rooms, all within the umbrella of a family-orientated church construct where people from all walks of life can come together to give thanks and enjoy each other’s company. Maintaining and further fostering a sense of community is a core part of the ideology championed by Colorado-based Armstrong Steel, who in the capacity of long-established purveyors of steel building systems (design, engineering and assembly of) are pioneers of church erecting far and wide. And whose enduring philosophy is to build not just a piece of peerless architecture but to afford its presence a place at the spiritual heart of the community in which it stands and serves.

Universally welcomed, steel-fabricated churches have certainly been better received than the more modernist (at the time) structures of the last mid-Century, with some critics dismissing these modest buildings as ‘gas station’ or ‘grocery store’ churches; alluding to their perceived unattractiveness and questionable appeal. And it’s this appreciation of steel by a ‘broader church’ which has sought to perpetuate the use of the commodity today, with aficionados citing the structural integrity of these places of worship as much as the aesthetic qualities. The versatility of steel churches is never better illustrated than when you consider the architectural spin-offs which can be accommodated in the initial blueprints, and which cater to ever-expansive pastoral requirements.

About the author


Brianna Smity

Hey! My name is Brianna Smity and I'm majoring in Integrative Public Relations and minoring in Multimedia Design at University of Southern California ( I love drawing and painting and I spend a lot of my time outdoors, more specifically on the water. I love to paddle board, boat, kayak, rollerblade, and bike. I LIVE for dogs and I would own 500 if I could. I have a black lab puppy named Luna and I miss her everyday I'm here at CMU. I love to listen to music, my taste is pretty diverse, but I am especially into 90s pop and alternative. My guilty pleasure is watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians, yes I know, but I am ADDICTED. My ultimate goal is to hopefully run social media platforms for a large company such as Victoria's Secret or Kylie Cosmetics.

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