Church Raises Golden Dome

Staff | September 28, 2010

Shiel Sexton hosted a 50-ton, ornate golden dome to the top of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church as part of the topping-off ceremonies at the church, which is now the tallest structure in the suburban city of Carmel, north of Indianapolis.

Construction on the 12,000-square-foot Byzantine-style sanctuary at 106th Street and Shelborne Road began last August with the placement of the foundation and creation of the dome skeleton. Shiel Sexton and Christ Kamages, principal of CJK Design of San Francisco, devised the plan to completely construct the 50-ton dome at ground level and to methodically lift it into place using three massive cranes.

Dome-raising operation begins on project site in Carmel, Ind. (Courtesy Shiel Sexton)

The dome-raising took a day to complete, but there were many steps leading up to the final placement of the dome. Shiel Sexton created temporary dome bracing and lift areas and a lift-rigging, so the three cranes could hoist the dome on top of six steel columns. Once lifted, the dome was turned and positioned 40 feet above the ground.

"The building's traditional Byzantine architecture with the wide dome and soaring interior spaces has required an enhanced attention to detail throughout all phases of design and construction," says Bill Butters, Shiel Sexton's project coordinator. "This landmark project will serve as a special place for both parishioners and the community. It's that sense of contribution that gives us pride throughout the building process."

Twin characteristics of an Orthodox domed-church are a series of windows surrounding the base of the dome, inviting light into the sanctuary from virtually all angles and the installation of the traditional Christ the "Pantocrator" icon within the center of the dome.

Holy Trinity Church, founded nearly 100 years ago in Indianapolis, has had two previous homes. The first was on the site of the current Indiana Historical Society on West Street in downtown Indianapolis. The second, at 4011 N. Pennsylvania St. in Indianapolis, was built in 1960 and serves as its current home.

Completion and occupancy of the new church is scheduled for fall 2008.