CS&T Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA – Michael Harris is putting his 13 years of business expertise into his new architectural firm, PETRVS Architecture, LLC, and making sure that Gospel values are at its foundation.

“My faith defines how I conduct business, how I present myself to others and how I treat others,” the 33-year-old said. “I have to be a witness before I’m an architect. God takes care of the rest.”

His firm provides a range of services from consulting to renovations and new construction for both commercial and residential properties, but Harris has a particular interest in church construction and renovations.

Harris is an admirer of architect Duncan Stroik, who is a leader in the new renaissance of sacred architecture in the United States, and shares his desire to revive classical architecture pulling from the richness found in the Catholic Church.

“We have such a rich history of sacred spaces that all point to the beauty of that which we aspire – heaven. Church architecture is meant to elevate the senses in worship of God and affirm the tenant of the faith with visual beauty and imagination,” Harris said. “I want to contribute my share to that richness.”

His firm has renovated two sacristies in the Immaculate Conception Chapel at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood and has created computer-generated three-dimensional designs of what the new basement at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Overbrook will look like after their capital campaign.

Harris wanted to be an architect since he was 10 years old. His family had dinner at the home of a well-known architect in Reading, where he grew up. He remembered touring the house and the wife proudly telling him that her husband had designed their home, he said.

“I talked with the [architect] the whole night and listened to how he designed the house and why he did what he did. I remember thinking how amazing it was that what he drew was built,” Harris said.

He went on to complete his architectural degree from Drexel University, in an intensive six year program that required students to work full time in the last four years of the program while taking evening classes. It taught him a kind of discipline and work ethic that he continues to apply to his life and his business, he said.

Harris, an active member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, believes in giving back to his community of faith. He is on the parish council committee and he is spearheading a new parish group called the Cenacles of Life to begin in the fall. The Cenacles of Life are parish based prayer groups that pray the rosary and fast for the specific intention of ending the culture of death.

But perhaps his greatest joy is being a husband to his wife Cindy and a father to his eight-month old daughter Gianna Marie.

“My wife has shown me the true meaning of sacrifice and my daughter continually shows me how to love unconditionally,” he said.

CS&T staff writer Nadia Maria Smith may be reached at or (215) 965-4614.