St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church on Daniel Island is one of the most significant new churches in South Carolina, dedicated on April 22, 2023. Designed by Franck & Lohsen Architects, it draws inspiration from Basilica of Saint Clare of Assisi in Assisi, Italy. The construction incorporated 310 tons of steel, 1,000 cubic yards of concrete, and 300,000 bricks.
The impact of this project extends well beyond its architectural significance. The church's construction was especially significant for the community, as the new church houses the rapidly growing Catholic parish that had been meeting at various temporary locations for more than nine years. Community engagement was a cornerstone of this project, and under the leadership of Father Gregory West, parishioners actively participated in the creation of handmade mosaics that now adorn the church. These mosaics serve as a symbol of the strong sense of community and ownership sustained throughout the project. The new church allows St. Clare of Assisi to expand its mission of quietly serving the needs of low-income residents in nearby disadvantaged neighborhoods.
This beautiful church saw its share of building challenges, starting with the project’s window design. Having originally planned for 16 plain glass windows due to budget constraints, an unexpected opportunity arose to purchase 12 stained glass windows from a 125-year old convent located in Pittsburgh. While enriching the project’s design, this change presented construction challenges in matching the new hurricane windows with the reclaimed windows. The solution required CAD drawings, coordination, and adherence to Charleston’s hurricane wind ratings. The windows, crafted by Franz Mayer of Munich in the late 1800s, now stand 18 feet high in the church.
That same Pittsburgh convent, known as the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, also provided a marble altar, a marble baptismal font, marble reredos, and several statues.
Other challenges—in addition to COVID-19 logistical complexities—included the international sourcing of components such as the bells from France and tile from Italy, both which demanded constant attention to material schedules to ensure timely deliveries. The construction process, characterized by intricate scaffold work and the utilization of cranes, was particularly challenging due to the church’s unique design elements that included twin bell towers and steeples reaching 170 feet.
Trident’s team was able to deliver St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church—one of the most ornate buildings to have been built in Charleston in the last 100 years—to its parish on time, on budget, and with zero recordable injuries.