A fresh approach in design succeeds in expanding this timeless church ministry with modern elements and a more welcoming contemporary feel.
Cathy Hutchison · February 7, 2017
Jordan Wallace, project manager for Lee Lewis Construction adds, “The long, narrow building site created a difficult platform for designing and building this large of a space (60,000sqft), but it was a rewarding exercise in combining cost-efficient construction practices with old-world design concepts.”
The $31 million campus expansion includes the 450-seat Ascension Chapel, a centralized welcome center—- that serves as one of the main entryways to the campus, a three-story education wing, and a homeless teen center.
Gary Kirchoff, principal at HH Architects mentions, “One of the specialty solutions to create continuity between the expansion and the original structures was in the brick. The manufacturer, ACME Brick, came out to see what was there and created an exact match. Of course, it wasn’t enough just to match the brick. We also had the mason to match the mortar of the existing buildings.”
CREATING INCLUSIVENESS WITH CHURCH WINDOWS AND ENTRYWAYS
One problem common to Gothic-style churches is that the architecture can feel impressive, but closed. People disappear behind the doors.
“The existing building had no big front door and no sense of where people were gathering,” says Kirchoff. “That was a big downfall of the old architectural styles—there is no place to gather as a group. The new construction provided an opportunity to change that.”
“When we closed the street [between the city blocks],” says Woody, “it needed to respond to people entering from both I-75 and McKinney Ave. The solution was to create dual front entries. It also allowed us to place the welcome center over the enclosed street to form a hub.”
“We wanted the life of the church on display to the neighborhood,” highlights Bishop Burton. HH Architect’s design met this challenge by repeating Gothic shapes with windows in the circulation spaces to create that sense of transparency.
In return the new windows also welcome the outside in, by providing views to the adjoining neighborhood and park.
Behind the scenes, the architects worked through all of the code issues and modern day requirements that weren’t a part of the equation 1,000 years ago when the aesthetic was initially introduced.