The Oblate Grotto


The Grotto provided a need for new ceremonial fixtures to be produced with consideration of design and longivity. Built in 1941, the Grotto has increasingly become the favorite setting for outdoor weekly masses given in English and Spanish. The popularity of these masses and the increased attendance proposed a unique opportunity to provide site architectural elements that preserved and protected the existing trees as well as create a unique and inviting outdoor multi-purpose space. Features integrated within the design included specialized tree lighting to provide various mood-setting options to compliment the use of the space for late afternoon and night uses. New sound and power systems were installed to allow for the television broadcasting of live services.

Materials used represented elements commonly found throughout the Oblate Hill Campus such as stone, stained concrete and wrought iron. Simple wood and steel benches provided the majority of the seating, but low stone walls and stone tree wells provide unique opportunities for overflow seating. A suspended structural system was utilized for the seating platform designed in close coordination with an arborist for the protection of the mature tree’s root systems. Subsurface systems were also integrated in support of the trees continued growth and health.

2001 - Religious Arts Liturgical Furnishings Award
AIA Design Awards
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* Architect of Record, Thom Robey, Sprinkle-Robey Architects

Size: 14,000 Sq. Ft.
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Client: The Oblates of San Antonio