Lionakis is currently engaged in a legacy project with the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church of Sacramento. The Annunciation Commemorative Monument Project will pay homage to the parish’s original building, which was designed by Lionakis’ founder and the first State Architect, George Sellon. One of Sellon’s original drawings, above, depicts the front of the church – which is the oldest Greek Orthodox parish between San Francisco and Salt Lake City.  The building was constructed in 1920 by the Greek immigrant families that formed the parish. The church served the Parish well until 1951, when it was sold and demolished for a major housing project. Undaunted, the Parish built a new Church the following year on Alhambra Boulevard, across from McKinley Park.

Continuing the firm’s legacy with the Annunciation faithful, Lionakis developed a master plan for the Parish’s present campus, including the Hellenic Center in 2016, the Parish’s new social hall and educational building. Lionakis worked with Comstock Johnson Architects to design and construct the Hellenic Center and modernize the Parish’s campus for the next 50 years.

With the Parish’s needs well met for the future, how appropriate for Lionakis to work with the Church to commemorate where it all started.

A design charrette was held at Lionakis to start, where our team presented several ideas for the monument components and artistic vision to the church community. Drawings, renderings and narratives were presented so that everyone could take part in the collaborative decision making process. Here are some of the designs being considered:

Angelo Freeman presented an entry arch design (click images to enlarge) inspired by an original arch still standing at the Olympic village in Olympia, Greece. With a proposed semicircular arch, two pedestals and a keystone, the two pedestals would provide ideal placement for plaques of donor names, religious symbols or perhaps even a flag. The design includes space for a bench to be placed below the arch so that while seated, the viewer can take time to more closely analyze the plaques and the surrounding environment.

Richard Fuller presented the above monument concept which would be constructed of two parts, the metal statue and the plinth. The statue is an abstract model of the first church, designed by George Sellon. This configuration of the monument would allow the viewer to approach from different angles and to have a tactile experience of the past and present. The plinth, constructed of concrete or stone, would contain the dedication and donation plaques. This monument invites you to investigate, learn and feel the thread of the church heritage, encouraging a more meaningful engagement at the site.

Jake Elliott presented the concept above that is intended to evoke a sense of past, present, and future. The phrase “walking in the footsteps of those who built the foundation for today,” is meant to acknowledge the Greek community’s influence on the built environment in Sacramento both historically and going forward and the footsteps are used as a reminder of that commitment. To celebrate the original church, a pointed arch is used to articulate the old church entrance, and is designed to look reminiscent of ancient Greek ruins as a frame to the commemorative plaque. Benches that are meant to act as part of the “foundation” that the Greek community helped build, lead into the pointed arch. The footsteps are also a way to draw the viewer into the space by creating a unique and welcoming experience along the pedestrian pathway.

Jeff Nokkeo presented the concept above that is called “Window into the Past” and features an etched glass monument that includes an embedded image of the original church. The frosted glass would be lit from below and the viewer would have a “window” to see where the actual church originally stood. This image of the church would be superimposed over where it was, on site, in 1951. The base of the monument would contain a tribute to the architect, George Sellon and the majority of the wording would honor both the founders of the first church as well as the progression of a modern united community.

Stay tuned for Part II where we’ll reveal which design was chosen to move ahead, and the next steps involved in the process of concept to completion on this legacy project.