By Bob Tagert
Sacred Spaces LLC
In Old Town Alexandria I have met a wide range of people and professions over the last 28 years, but one of the most interesting is this months business profile…J. Michael Carrigan and John Grosvenor of Sacred Spaces. They have a consulting and design company that designs churches and cathedrals. In addition to their consulting and design services, they offer assistance in master planning, parish educational services, fabrication and installation of statuary and liturgical furniture as well as appraising and removal of sacred works of art from closing churches.
Their artistic expertise covers a full range of disciplines to include marble furniture and flooring: marble, wood, and fiberglass statuary and various forms of artwork, murals, mosaic, stenciling, gold leaf gilding/detailing and stained glass design.
Once hired, these two become part of the theological family. They know that the responsibility of the liturgical consultant is to assist the pastor, the staff, and the entire parish with continuing education about the importance, role, and value of worship, as well as the impact of the church building upon worship. It is also the role of the liturgical consultant to work closely with the pastor, architect, and the parish committees from the earliest stages of the process to help them apply the principals and norms of liturgical design to the practical and liturgical needs of the parish. This includes the flow and movement for processions, appropriate styles for the various liturgical celebrations, and the interrelationships within the Eucharist as well as the relationship of the Eucharist with the other sacraments, acoustics, and all other elements required by the Church’s liturgy.
Their design focus centers on custom liturgical furniture, statuary and other desired artwork. Their furniture designs include conceptual, detailed and construction drawings as required including color renderings as appropriate. Their statuary and artwork designs primarily include artistic drawings and color renderings as needed to gain client approval.
According to Mr. Carrigan houses are built from the “outside in” whereas a church is built from the “inside out”. Therefore, the role of the interior designer is to assure that all of the interior spaces will support their function, i.e. sanctuary, meeting hall, offices, assembly rooms, nave, chapels, etc.
Michael Carrigan founded sacred Spaces in 2004. Mr. Carrigan received his Bachelors of Fine Art from Benedictine College and continued his studies at the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, MO, where he majored in painting and interior design. At the University of Maryland he completed additional course work in AutoCAD design, and at Northern Virginia Community College he completed advance course work in Western, Chinese and Japanese art history.
Beginning his career with the Hallmark Corporation, Carrigan designed a series of both Folk Art and Fine Art exhibitions, many of which traveled to New York and across the country. After three years with the Hallmark company, he was hired by the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, where, for 38 years he held a number of executive positions, including Director of Design and Installation for the National Portrait Gallery, Director of Exhibitions and Public Spaces for the National Museum of American History and Founding Director of the National Program of Smithsonian Affiliations. He also directed the Smithsonian’s 150th Anniversary traveling exhibition, “America’s Smithsonian”. From 1977 to 1981 he served as the Exhibits Officer for the Library of Congress initiating the restoration of the original library building and opening the James Madison Building.
During his career he designed more than 500 exhibitions. He is considered an expert in the fields of restoration, conservation and public space design.
In April 2004, after several years of associative work in liturgical design, Mr. Carrigan retired from the Smithsonian to pursue his interest in this field on a full time basis. Gathering a group of designers, artists and craftspeople from across the globe, he formed Sacred Spaces Liturgical Design Inc. With the main offices and design studios located in Old Town Alexandria, he also opened offices in Italy, Poland and Spain in order to be able to access artists and craftsmen trained in the Renaissance Arts.
In January 2013, John Grosvenor and Carrigan joined as partners and formed Sacred Spaces LLC. In addition to providing supervision and management for all projects, Mr. Grosvenor is responsible for all aspects of running a successful business, to include but not limited to business development, cost estimating, proposal writing and contracting and liaison with subcontractors and vendors. Between 2013 and 2015 he has contracted and managed over 50 projects totaling over 2 million in revenue.
From February 1982 to September 2002 Grosvenor served in the United States Air Force achieving a rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He managed over 1,300 key Department of Defense personnel positions with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense, On-Site Inspection Agency, and the Department of State. He also directed and managed a $30 million annual flying-hour program for an overseas DoD organization. He has over 2,500 flight hours in the F-111 and F-15 aircraft with combat time over Iraq and Kosovo. He was recognized as the Outstanding Graduate/Distinguished Graduate of the Air Force’s Elite Fighter Weapons School.
With new and ongoing projects these two remain quite busy. Currently they are working on St. Pius X in Lafayette, LA, St. Olaf in Williamsburg, VA and will attend the dedication of Our Lady of the Lake in Chapin, SC, their most recently completed job.