Bay Area Community Church is a contemporary church (located in Annapolis, Maryland) that constantly strives to present the Gospel in creative ways. The church has grown steadily since moving into their existing building in 2006, leading to their building expansion, which includes a 350-seat Chapel, new Children's Wing, and plans for a future addition on the West end of the building.
The design of the original building was influenced by Annapolis' nautical culture. The primary façade is comprised of a large expanse of blue glass, inspired by Revelations 4:6 and 15:2 where God's people are depicted on a "sea of glass." A large curving balcony rolls through the linear concourse like waves in the ocean; the tower is formed in the shape of a boat's sail. The Chapel addition was designed to keep continuity with the existing building, its balcony's curve and nautical theme. The metal panel-clad Chapel is elliptical-shaped and projects out from the building, emulating a ship being sent out to sea. This metaphor emphasizes the church's mission to be "followers of Jesus, from here to the nations" as directed by the Great Commission.
The use of natural and industrial materials such as wood, exposed steel, cable railings, and polished concrete floors convey the maritime concept while fostering an authentic and relatable environment for church-goers. Despite being located within the same building, the existing 800-seat auditorium and the Chapel operate like a multisite church, with live worship in both spaces and a sermon that is live-streamed into the Chapel. The Chapel serves the church as a quiet, contemplative, and formal space in contrast with the casual nature of the larger existing auditorium.
The Chapel uses daylight as the primary light source, which works in harmony with an ultra-bright LED screen. This signifies a shift away from the recently-popular trend of "black box" church auditoriums (that rely on technology to provide a controlled contemporary worship experience), and towards a traditionally "worshipful" space interpreted in a fresh way. The contemporary Chapel still maintains a sacred-feeling, which is desirable across multiple generations and especially with Millennials, according to the latest Barna research. The intentional placement and treatment of glazing in the Chapel achieves uniform light distribution throughout the space, focusing one's view toward the trees and sky while avoiding ground level distractions nearby.
Chapel Addition (Bay Area Community Church)
Project Size: 301-800 seats
Completion Date: March 4, 2015
The light-filled space is accented with wood slat ceiling clouds that warm the space and improve the acoustics. Wood slats also clad the outer walls of the Chapel within the concourse, visually enforcing the identity of the Chapel within the entirety of the building and minimizing noise produced in the concourse. Due to the church's focus on the visual arts in their worship experience, the Chapel and Concourse both have minimal articulation on the walls, creating a canvas for future visual installations. The Children's Wing was designed with bright colors and large engaging murals that follow the underwater theme of the church's children's ministry. A playroom was designed for families to bring their children to play between services or during the week.
The Bay Area Community Church project blends traditional and contemporary design elements to connect multiple generations and serve as a model of the shift in modern church design. The design of the Chapel reflects the unique and creative culture of the church which strives to reach people in an authentic way.