2016 Solomon Awards

Design & Construction

Seamless Technology in Traditional Sacred Spaces

Calvary began with a new organ, but eventually fulfilled a vision to enhance the entire appearance and technology of the sanctuary.

WFM Staff  ·  October 1, 2016

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In 2011, Calvary Baptist Church of Denver was given the rare opportunity to purchase a high quality, well maintained pipe organ for $5,000. This organ, valued at over $750,000, was built in 1987 by the McManis Company, and featured 43 ranks of nearly 3,000 pipes and 43 stops.

Calvary’s current organ was over 40 years old and had many challenges and limitations. With the purchase complete, the Sacred Space Renewal (SSR) project was born! Discussions began around many issues, including who should install the organ, what to do with our existing organ, and funding. One challenge was fitting the new organ into the existing organ loft, as the new organ had 800 more pipes.

Traditional Church Building Design/Sanctuary Renovation (Calvary Baptist Church of Denver)

Denver, Colorado
Project Size: 201-800 seats
Completion Date: May 22, 2016

Our solution was to display 27 of the largest pipes on the facade of the chancel. Another challenge was that the new organ console was too large to fit in the organ pit. We placed the new console on the chancel, with wheels to move it around. The old organ pit became “technology central” for our A/V, organ and electrical equipment.

During the conversations about the organ installation, the SSR Committee realized that Calvary was going to have to demolish quite a bit of the sanctuary facade just to install the new organ.  Since the chancel was already going to be in construction mode, the committee wondered what else we might simultaneously do to enhance our 50-year-old sanctuary. Brainstorming began, and what started as an organ replacement project became a vision that captured the imagination of the congregation.

We set a goal to upgrade and enhance the flexibility of our facilities in order to:

• Improve the theological aesthetics of the chancel, bringing in light instead of darkness, while retaining its current
      feel with wood and stone suggestive of the Colorado mountains
• Successfully integrate the new display of pipes into the chancel facade with new mill-work and grille cloth
• Provide a technologically updated facility for worship, faith development activities, concerts and community
• Attract new parishioners
• Integrate Calvary further into our surrounding community
• Enhance rental income

We developed a wide range of suggestions and started initial fund-raising to determine how much of our vision could become reality without going into debt.  It was critically important to only do work that we could pay for in the present, and not impact our operating budget.

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