2018: Year in Review

by Michael Raia

This year has been a source of tremendous blessing. As the first official year of business for Studio io, 2018 provided some wonderful opportunities for professional and personal growth. Stepping away from a wonderful position with a family of longtime co-workers to step out in faith in pursuit of a different calling was difficult, but the Lord provided a great deal of affirmation and grace, particularly through the kindness and support of my former bosses and the clients with whom I have been able to continue to work to complete active projects on the other side of the transition. In thanksgiving for God’s abundant generosity, I would like to recap a few other highlights for which I am particularly grateful.


The year began with the exciting completion of conceptual design of a Parish Evangelization Center and chapel for St. Eugene in Oklahoma City with Jackson Galloway Architects (JGA). Shortly thereafter, one of the first independent projects Studio io was able to work on was Sons of Thunder, a priest retreat center chapel. While it was put on hold and did not come to fruition this year, the opportunity to do that work was a great source of encouragement. Shortly thereafter, I had the opportunity to work with St. Vincent Pallotti in Abilene, TX (top left) on the conceptual design for a church renovation and to assist St. Ignatius Martyr in Austin with planning the installation of stained glass windows and renovating confessionals. Another tremendously enjoyable project emerged from a very dated youth room in need of renovation. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Houston endeavored to transform the room into The Well (middle left), a comfortable and inviting parish lounge intended to provide a place for inter-generational use for ministry.


Studio io also been able to provide pro bono consulting work for several clients, including a chapel design study with the deacon class at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, an ongoing sustainable earthen block hermitage planning effort for the Gospel of Life Disciples in Oklahoma, and some work for the Diocese of Austin: planning a model for a prototype church to be building on three parish campuses, two of which are being relocated to provide adequate space to accommodate rapid growth. Additional pro bono consulting work with the University Catholic Center included coordinating a consultant to design a full sound system replacement, designing exterior Mass times signage, and doing some initial planning for sacred art on the exterior of the building and making an introduction to my very talented friend Baker Galloway, who recently completed a beautiful installation of the icon he was commissioned to paint (bottom left). The image of Christ was installed in vinyl film over a central window of the building facing the iconic UT tower and the bustling south lawn and view corridor in the center of the university campus.

Amid several projects and consulting efforts with Studio io clients, construction administration of other projects designed with JGA began. A new chapel for St. Paul in Smithville, TX (top right) is well on its way, followed by a delayed start to the John Paul II Student Center Addition at St. Mary’s Catholic Center in College Station, TX and an exciting historic restoration and addition to the 127-year old St. Mary of the Assumption in String Prairie, TX (bottom right).

Conceptual design of an exciting new Evangelization Center at Sts. Peter & Paul in New Braunfels, TX with JGA is now complete, and apart from the Student Center expansion we are also assisting St. Mary’s with a new Our Lady of Grace shrine, bronze relief of John Paul II, and conceptual budgeting and preliminary sacred art design for a the new church.


Late in the summer, Studio io began working with Most Holy Trinity in Angleton, TX to consider options for adding a youth center and classrooms. St. Martin of Tours in Forney, TX partnered with Studio io to undertake planning of an ambitious parish renewal campaign with a refined master plan and conceptual design for a beautiful new traditional Texas-vernacular gothic revival church as its centerpiece. This project provided a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with Studio io team members Katie Torvinen and Mike Tamara, who are taking on expanded roles with the firm in 2019. Towards the end of the year, Studio io was engaged to begin planning work with several new clients on exciting church renovation projects. We look forward to what lies ahead for these parishes in the coming months.

We are blessed to see what God is doing in his Church, and we are eager to continue encouraging the comprehensive renewal that is so badly needed. We greatly appreciate your prayers. To learn more about Studio io, please visit our blog, read about our values, and see more of our work.