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Work completed on St. Gabriel church

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General contractor T.B. Penick and Sons has completed $12.9 million worth of construction on a new 16,300-square-foot sanctuary and two ancillary buildings, a parish office and social hall totaling 11,000 square feet for the parish of St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Poway.

The design-build project began in March 2008 as a competition for the design and construction of an authentic 1800s California Mission-style church. TB Penick teamed up with Cardiff-based Hyndman and Hyndman Architects and came up with the winning design.

Grading the 13-acre hill site for the sanctuary was challenging from the onset. Nearly $500,000 went to clearing the area of boulders averaging 6 to 10 feet in diameter.

Approximately 300 tons of boulders were relocated and engineered on site to create rockery walls around the parish campus.

According to John Sandoval, design and project manager with T.B. Penick, more than 3,000 square feet of walls were created with portions up to 8 feet deep and 14 feet high.

The wood and steel sanctuary features a cruciform configuration and spans 125 feet wide by 32 feet high, with a sand blasted, heavy wood open beam interior ceiling system and a red clay tile roof.

Topping the church is a copper dome 12 feet in diameter, with bronze penny-colored patina finish with an 8-foot, dark metal bronze spire.

The dual entry glass doors are 32 feet wide and 20 feet high. Exterior windows are adorned with Spanish-style wrought iron coverings.

To each side of the entry to the sanctuary are 35-foot tall bell towers featuring five custom church bells designed and manufactured in Orleans, France.

The bells weigh up to 6,700 pounds each with the largest being 6.5 feet tall and about 6 feet wide.

Each bell is engraved with an illustration of St. Gabriel and features etched words memorializing victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and names of infants and children of parishioners who have passed away.

A central gathering plaza just outside the entry features an outdoor fire pit for Easter Vigil ceremonies and for parish gatherings.

Behind the sanctuary altar stands a 20-by-30-foot retablo depicting a scene from the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The retablo, a replica from a 17th century Spanish mission, was designed and constructed in Madrid and shipped in panels for assembly on site.

Next to the altar is a state-of-the-art laser audio system that equalizes sound distribution from the altar throughout the entire church. Speakers are concealed within the church's walls and ceiling system that has been treated with an acoustic “Fellert” sound absorbing material.

Other interior features include a walk-in baptismal font with colorful, decorative tile from Lebanon and reactive concrete stained floors with inlaid decorative designs.

The sanctuary seats up to 1,000 parishioners. Exterior campus amenities include stations of the cross marked by 14 full-size wood crucifixes 15 feet in height.

Water for the church's landscaping is provided by a well drilled on the site that draws water from a local, natural aquifer.

All water drainage from the grounds is directed to a central basin area, where it is filtered for sediment prior to entering the storm drain.

Other members of the T.B. Penick project team were Tom Donovan, superintendent; Ron Tickner project engineer; Susanna Bingham and Judy Deese, project administrators.

Major subcontractors included Sierra Earthwork, grading and underground; Team C Concrete, DA Whitacre Framing, A&P Drywall, Helfers Electric, and Arrow Automatic, fire protection.

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