First Presbyterian Church of Midland’s new amphitheater has created a new image for the church, showing that it is not just a place of worship on Sunday mornings, but a place for music, exhibitions, food trucks, weddings, funerals, celebrations and contemplation every day of the week.
WFM Staff · September 26, 2017
First Presbyterian Church of Midland was originally built in 1937.
Through a number of expansions over time, the church had maintained its wonderful, rich history; deeply personal liturgy; and outreach to the community.
The church wanted to transform their current facilities to better achieve their mission of “Loving and leading all people to a deeper life in Jesus Christ.” Through collaboration discussions in the early stages of the design process, the church envisioned this mission statement coming to life in two key areas of their facilities:
1. Inside – by deepening relationships with authentic caring and growing faith.
2. Outside – by reaching out and crossing barriers. To achieve this transformation on the outside of the facility, several objectives guided these renovations:
• Establishing a clear front door to the church;
• Creating a destination
• Offering a contemplative space
• Forming a connection to downtown Midland
• Providing accessibility to the chapel
A clear sense of entry is often obscured in a church that has endured multiple additions throughout the years. For First Presbyterian, it made sense to accentuate the front door off Texas Avenue and North A Street. This would provide a good visual off a main street, and it would be situated conveniently to existing parking.
A large and cumbersome overhead canopy was removed in order to open up the view of the building just west of the chapel, and new paving and landscaping was placed to reinforce a sense of entry.
Just east of the chapel a contemplative amphitheater was created. The center of the amphitheater features a fountain as a reminder of the true Living Water. This geometrical center is located outside the building, simultaneously drawing the outside community inward and the church community outward. The lines of the architecture also emphasize a ripple effect both inward and outward.
The amphitheater is within walking distance of Midland’s downtown district, and provides a shaded respite from the sun with tiered seating to have lunch or quiet contemplation. The gurgling fountain adds to the peaceful ambience of the outside space.
The amphitheater is open to the community to use for public performances or recitals. The renovated youth space on the second story opens onto an outdoor balcony that overlooks the space and creates an engaging extension of the stage area. A folding glass wall was introduced along the east facade of the existing chapel that opens onto the new amphitheater, allowing the chapel to also be used as a stage. A new accessible ramp was added to serve the east side of the existing chapel and provide access to the outdoor stage. New drought-tolerant, native planting was introduced to soften the space.
Before, the outside of the church was seldom used and had little connection to the downtown area. Now, the amphitheater has created a multipurpose venue and has become a connection between the inside and outside of the church, as well as a connection to the local community. The design and function of the new amphitheater created a new image for the church, showing that it is not just a place of worship on Sunday mornings, but a place for music, exhibitions, food trucks, weddings, funerals, celebrations and contemplation every day of the week.