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A thoroughly modern, very traditional church

A 50-foot x 90-foot metal building system from Star Buildings allowed the church to build its basic structure economically and finish it in a way that achieved the visual style they wanted

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May 17, 2016 |

The Church of St. Francis Xavier, in Sallisaw, Okla., wanted a new church building with a traditional look and feel.  Their architect, Shelby Navarro of 1Architecture, Tulsa, Okla., discussed a range of styles with them.

“We wanted to know the personality of the church,” explains Navarro. “They were a little more traditional, and they wanted the strength of that traditional look.  It garners respect a little more.” The idea included stone walls, massive timber rafters, stained glass windows, a steeply pitched roof, and two tall copper spires.

“Obviously, to do a traditional European church involves stone masons and gargoyles, and they were on a very tight budget,” continues Navarro.

The solution was a 50-foot x 90-foot metal building system from Star Buildings that allowed the church to build its basic structure economically and finish it in a way that achieved the visual style they wanted. It allowed the church to have a 50-foot clear-span for the sanctuary with a steep 12:12 roof pitch that combine to give the interior a soaring, uplifting feeling.

General contractor for the project was C&C Builders, Sallisaw, Okla.  The metal building system was supplied and erected by Star builder B&B Welding.  For this beautiful project, B&B was named Star’s   Master Builder of the Year.

And contrary to what some builders may suspect, Bill Buckner—president of B&B Welding—says design for such a project proves to be remarkably easy. “We meet the architect’s criteria and then we get on our computers and we can design what he wants, with all the codes and loads and deflections, all with the software that Star provides us.”



The central steel structure for the church was additionally built out with cold-form steel framing to create the bell tower with its buttresses, and the two spires. Exterior finishes of EIFS stucco, brick, and stone “columns” capture the feel of traditional construction. It is roofed with composition shingle that resembles wood shake.  The taller spire is 56 feet high, surmounted by a cross, and both spires are clad in copper.  The copper is already beginning to acquire the patina that completes the look. There is one stained glass rose window installed above the altar, and space for a second rose window at the other end of the nave, when the budget allows, sometime in the future.  Navarro calls it, “a modern interpretation of that small, comfortable European church.”

Part of the “modern” aspect includes making it a functional building for our time.  In a location that hits 105º F in the summer at 70% humidity, R-36 insulation helps the church to keep a comfortable interior temperature with minimal waste of energy.

Architect Navarro believes that the choice of a metal building system was vital to the church achieving its goal.  “The value from the metal building system is what allowed the church to happen.  If they had tried to deal with glue-lams and custom wood, they wouldn’t have made it there.”

B&B’s Bill Buckner swears by Star Buildings.  “I won’t put up anybody else’s, because Star’s SBS Builder Software is so awesome.  You don’t have to call a rep to get prices.  You just get on that computer, and it will do the work for you.”


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