Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

 

This is a project our company has been working on for the last couple years in Knoxville, TN. It is the new seat of the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville, which serves all of eastern Tennessee, and was dedicated this weekend. Here is a recording of the Mass and Rite of Dedication for those that would like to breeze through all four hours and 44 minutes of it. More than 100 priests, 21 bishops and archbishops, and five cardinals participated in the dedication ceremony.

The new cathedral increases the seating capacity of the old facility from 580 to 1,358 worshipers and square footage from a previous 7,500 to 28,000. The total project cost was $30.8 million, has 100 pews, and 100 seats in the choir loft. Ceiling height in the nave is 50 feet with the dome soaring 144 feet above the floor at the peak. There were 111 concrete piers drilled into bedrock. Construction took over 400 tons of steel and over 5,000 cubic yards of concrete. There are estimated to be 41 miles of wood blocking and trim, 20,000 pieces of Indiana limestone, 300,000 Roman style bricks, and 50,000 concrete blocks.

This project was extremely complicated, detailed, and unique. Definitely a “once in a lifetime” type of job. The completion date was literally “set in stone” as the cornerstone, which was installed around two years ago, was already engraved with the date of March 3, 2018, as the opening! As you can imagine there were many difficulties bringing this project in on time, from weather to fire marshals, etc.

The final unforeseen hurdle, however, was an event about which many of you had heard but probably wouldn’t have guessed its relevance here. Billy Graham died! Many of the church officials involved in the dedication ceremony, including the Cardinal from St. Patrick’s in New York City and a representative from Rome, decided to attend Graham’s funeral. It was feared that the scheduling conflict for the weekend might require the entire event at the Cathedral to be rescheduled to possibly next fall. Thankfully, since the funeral actually took place on Friday, the dignitaries were flown from NC to Knoxville after that service in order to clear the final hurdle and make the dedication a reality.

All of this was more like a vision than reality when the project first began.

Here we were pouring some of the floor slabs. On either side, you can see tilt panels stacked up that are cast on site then lifted into place to make the circular wall openings for large windows on the dome and main building.

Here is Ricochet notable @titustechera when he was visiting and braved the climb to the top of the dome to get a couple of pictures during construction!

There was quite a bit of pressure as that date neared and dignitaries were scheduled to attend from around the country if not the world. We actually poured the last section of sidewalk early last Friday morning in time to strip the forms around noon and the landscaper following in the afternoon with plants and sod to be ready for that evening’s services. That is seriously cutting it close!

Believe me when I tell you it isn’t easy to get from here:

To here, in a couple days:

One of the highlights of the Cathedral is the central dome that rises 144 feet from the floor and can be seen from miles around. For those who are interested, here is a timelapse of the dome’s construction. It has a gilded cross at its peak and takes inspiration from the Florence Cathedral. In my opinion, the inside of the dome is very impressive, depicting Jesus and the disciples.

The site work was what I have recently been concentrating on finishing up for the dedication but the inside is what will take your breath away. Here are a few more pictures I took as the finishing touches were underway.

I would be remiss not to point out details like this polished black concrete with Italian marble laid into it. This is one of the many intricate details of this project that made it both frustrating and very fulfilling. Note that the marble has 1/16″ grout joints. (now go look at your bathroom tile)

The Baptismal Font

The Dedication Stone blessed by Pope Francis on October 14, 2015.

This paint effect was made using the same color paint but in gloss overlaid using a stencil pattern.

As I said, even through all the delays and challenges to get everything to come together, there is a definite sense of accomplishment among all the contractors who worked on this project and pride in how it turned out.

There are 43 comments.

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  1. TheSockMonkey Coolidge
    TheSockMonkey
    @TheSockMonkey

    I’m not a Catholic, but it’s nice to see a new church going up.

    Did the Pope actually travel to the site to bless the dedication stone, or was it sent to him?

    • #1
  2. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    The completion date pre-cut into the cornerstone is interesting.  You don’t want to end up with a bunch of cross-outs with a series of new dates, like an item that has been repeatedly marked down for the bargain bin.

    Gorgeous work.

    • #2
  3. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    TheSockMonkey (View Comment):
    I’m not a Catholic, but it’s nice to see a new church going up.

    Did the Pope actually travel to the site to bless the dedication stone, or was it sent to him?

    It was blessed in Rome.  The Pope did send an envoy to dedicate the new Cathedral……and I was told what you call that guy but I don’t remember.  lol   (Not Catholic either lol)

    • #3
  4. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    It’s amazing to see this finished! It was amazing to climb all the way up inside under the dome & look at the country around. It’s a God bless America moment!

    • #4
  5. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    The completion date pre-cut into the cornerstone is interesting. You don’t want to end up with a bunch of cross-outs with a series of new dates, like an item that has been repeatedly marked down for the bargain bin.

    Gorgeous work.

    At one scheduling “meeting” (GC trying to get me to finish a month’s worth of work in a week) I told them I had a chisel in the truck and I could change that date of the 3rd to the 13th noooooo problem.  lol

    • #5
  6. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    What a project.  Goodness – 5,000 yards of concrete – that’s a whole lot of concrete.

    The finish work is beautiful.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • #6
  7. Mountie Coolidge
    Mountie
    @Mountie

    Concretevol (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    The completion date pre-cut into the cornerstone is interesting. You don’t want to end up with a bunch of cross-outs with a series of new dates, like an item that has been repeatedly marked down for the bargain bin.

    Gorgeous work.

    At one scheduling “meeting” (GC trying to get me to finish a month’s worth of work in a week) I told them I had a chisel in the truck and I could change that date of the 3rd to the 13th noooooo problem. lol

    If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

    • #7
  8. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    What a project. Goodness – 5,000 yards of concrete – that’s a whole lot of concrete.

    The finish work is beautiful.

    Thanks for sharing

    Sorry for the picture quality.  I’m sure there are professional pictures out there that are better quality, that was just me and my phone  :)

    • #8
  9. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily
    @tigerlily

    Congrats Concretevol! Were you guys the prime contractor, or just responsible for the concrete work?

    • #9
  10. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    tigerlily (View Comment):
    Congrats Concretevol! Were you guys the prime contractor, or just responsible for the concrete work?

    Concrete work only.  The General Contractor was Merit Construction.

    • #10
  11. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Awesome. Beautiful. Praise God.

    Thanks for sharing your work with us.

    • #11
  12. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    How beautiful. I love the pictures. It is exciting to see people’s hopes and dreams become reality.

    My daughter lives in Raleigh. The Raleigh archdiocese has just completed a new church too, the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral:

    • #12
  13. Johnnie Alum 13 Inactive
    Johnnie Alum 13
    @JohnnieAlum13

    Concretevol (View Comment):

    TheSockMonkey (View Comment):
    I’m not a Catholic, but it’s nice to see a new church going up.

    Did the Pope actually travel to the site to bless the dedication stone, or was it sent to him?

    It was blessed in Rome. The Pope did send an envoy to dedicate the new Cathedral……and I was told what you call that guy but I don’t remember. lol (Not Catholic either lol)

    It was probably the Apostolic Nuncio.

    • #13
  14. Johnnie Alum 13 Inactive
    Johnnie Alum 13
    @JohnnieAlum13

    Beautiful work.

    It is great to see a Catholic Church that actually looks like a Catholic Church.

    • #14
  15. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Beautiful and awesome work.

    Many professions conclude a job with something to look back on for pride. But construction seems particularly rewarding in that way.

    My great grandpa helped to build a small church in Georgia. One day, your grandchildren will visit that cathedral and feel overwhelming pride in your accomplishment. Well done.

    • #15
  16. Painter Jean Member
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Beautiful, just beautiful. It’s so wonderful to see inspiring beauty return to church architecture after enduring churches that looked like gyms or warehouses.

    • #16
  17. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Beautiful work, and your photos are great. There was a time that Catholic Church architecture went through a minimalist phase, hopefully that’s over. I’ve attended Mass in some churches that had all the charm of an East German railway waiting room.

    Thanks for your wonderful work.

    • #17
  18. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    What an extraordinary story! Does the area support that many Catholics for such a huge church? It seems so many are closing – the old beautiful cathedrals both here and Europe. Maybe this is a reversing trend? Hope so – truly outstanding work and great pictures.  Boy – @titustechera gets around! Will watch the ceremony too – thanks for the link.

    • #18
  19. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    MarciN (View Comment):
    How beautiful. I love the pictures. It is exciting to see people’s hopes and dreams become reality.

    My daughter lives in Raleigh. The Raleigh archdiocese has just completed a new church too, the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral:

    Yes I believe I heart that Raleigh and Knoxville were the only Cathedrals under construction in the country.  (I haven’t verified that but it isn’t too common apparently.)

    • #19
  20. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Johnnie Alum 13 (View Comment):

    Concretevol (View Comment):

    TheSockMonkey (View Comment):
    I’m not a Catholic, but it’s nice to see a new church going up.

    Did the Pope actually travel to the site to bless the dedication stone, or was it sent to him?

    It was blessed in Rome. The Pope did send an envoy to dedicate the new Cathedral……and I was told what you call that guy but I don’t remember. lol (Not Catholic either lol)

    It was probably the Apostolic Nuncio.

    Yes that’s it!  Thanks  :)

    • #20
  21. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    What an extraordinary story! Does the area support that many Catholics for such a huge church? It seems so many are closing – the old beautiful cathedrals both here and Europe. Maybe this is a reversing trend? Hope so – truly outstanding work and great pictures. Boy – @titustechera gets around! Will watch the ceremony too – thanks for the link.

    I believe I was told they have over 4,500 parishioners and the church seat covers from Crossville to NC and from Bristol to Chattanooga.

    • #21
  22. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    I’m an engineer.  There is nothing more satisfying than to see a project come to a successful conclusion.  Wonderful, and it’s beautiful.

    • #22
  23. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):
    Awesome. Beautiful. Praise God.

    Thanks for sharing your work with us.

    Was actually thinking about you when I posted this my friend.  You have shared some heartfelt and beautiful thoughts about your Catholic faith in the past  :)

    • #23
  24. Nerina Bellinger Inactive
    Nerina Bellinger
    @NerinaBellinger

    As a Catholic, I am just thankful to see a beautiful worship space conceived and completed.  Praise, God and may the cathedral welcome many of the Lost Sheep home!

    • #24
  25. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Making a Difference Every Day.  It’s beautiful.

    • #25
  26. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Concretevol (View Comment):

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):
    Awesome. Beautiful. Praise God.

    Thanks for sharing your work with us.

    Was actually thinking about you when I posted this my friend. You have shared some heartfelt and beautiful thoughts about your Catholic faith in the past :)

    Wow, thanks. As others have said here, it is great to see a Catholic Church that looks like a Church. Y’all did great.

    May the good Lord bless you abundantly for the glory you have given Him through your work.

    • #26
  27. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    That’s beautiful. As an engineer who mostly did software in my career, I always had a lot of respect – and envy- for those who left more “concrete” results of their work. You have alot to be proud of

     

    • #27
  28. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    I’ve been scheduled for several days of work in the area, through this weekend, and I was wondering where I was going fulfill my Sunday obligation.  Now I know.

    • #28
  29. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    I’ve been scheduled for several days of work in the area, through this weekend, and I was wondering where I was going fulfill my Sunday obligation. Now I know.

    You better give me a holler when you’e up this way!

    • #29
  30. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    Concretevol (View Comment):

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    I’ve been scheduled for several days of work in the area, through this weekend, and I was wondering where I was going fulfill my Sunday obligation. Now I know.

    You better give me a holler when you’e up this way!

    Will do.  Friday night and Saturday night are good bets.

    • #30

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