Gary Heathcote, the project’s principal architect, said he was extremely pleased Oct. 19 when the planning commission approved his Byzantine-style design that incorporates dark exterior walls, red tile roofs and faux copper domes. The interior and exterior of the church will also feature intricate mosaic work.

“Almost every commissioner said something very nice about (the design) and indicated that it would be a landmark set of buildings in Camarillo,” said Heathcote, who’s worked on the project for three years alongside a committee made up of St. Demetrios parishioners.

St. Demetrios plans to construct three buildings—an Agape center with classrooms and office space, a fellowship hall and the main church.

Kyriacou said the new buildings will allow the 165-family parish to grow and to expand its programs.

“It’s like a family that has overgrown its first home,” Kyriacou said of the parish that currently uses a 150-seat church on the Camarillo Airport property.

The project will total more than 31,000 square feet and cost an estimated $15 million.

 

“(There are) kids in the parish that I want to marry in that church,” said Kyriacou of his desire to see the long-term project come to fruition by 2020. He said, however, “My life belongs to the church,” and he can’t promise that he’ll be head of the parish in the next decade. “My desire is to see this project out, but I can’t guarantee I will be here forever.”

Kyriacou said St. Demetrios intends to begin construction on the $3.5-million Agape center by 2012. Raising the money for the project has been an ongoing mission of the parish for more than six years. Member donations are supplemented by church-hosted fundraisers. The annual Ventura County Greek Festival is the largest of those.

The 8,400-square-foot Agape center will seat 210 and be the interim worship hall until the main 11,400-square-foot church is completed. The church will be the second building to be constructed and will seat 475 people.

The 11,400-square-foot fellowship hall will host special functions and will also include a full kitchen and multipurpose room.

Heathcote, a Mormon, said St. Demetrios was the first Greek Orthodox Church he’s designed and he researched the church’s style extensively and visited other Greek Orthodox churches in Southern California.

“Getting to know the Greek congregations in California and studying Greek architecture, it gave me a real good handle on what it is they needed to have their worship service, along with instructions from their priest on how he felt that his church should function,” the Westlake Village-based architect said.

“We wanted to do something that was really very organic—that was growing right out of the ground,” Kyriacou said. “We didn’t want it to look like a new building. We wanted it to look like it had been there for years.”

The church’s design also takes into consideration the property’s numerous trees. Heathcote said he wants to create a “parklike” setting around the three buildings.

Heathcote also designed the Church of the Epiphany in Oak Park and St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Oxnard.