Going Vertical with Church Design

The six-story tall glass-enclosed entrance, looming over the entire church complex, commands presence along the freeway and in nearby neighborhoods, and greets congregants and visitors alike to this multi-building campus in a booming part of the metropolitan Houston region.

Situated against the busy Northwest Freeway outside of Houston, the growing congregation at Good Shepherd UMC took another step in the completion of their long range master plan with the addition of this striking new Worship Center.

The latest project for this growing congregation west of Houston is a 41,003 square foot, 1,200 seat auditorium-style sanctuary in a theater-type space featuring terraced seating, an expansive stage including space for choir and praise team, superior acoustical performance, and state-of-the-art sound and audio-visual systems.

Sanctuary Construction (Good Shepherd United Methodist Church)

Cypress, Texas
Project Size: 801-2000 seats
Completion Date: October 9, 2015
goodchurch.us

Among the challenges faced by the design team were not only the need for visual prominence, but also a site size that had been outgrown by the needs of the church. The original master plan envisioned the Worship Center in this particular location on the property, but growth forced the addition of offices, classrooms, and nursery spaces to the scope of the project.

As a result, an auditorium-style worship space was wrapped on two sides by the ancillary spaces. However, this provided the opportunity to go vertical with the structure, and to emphasize the curvilinear shape of the space on the exterior architectural expression.

The bright, expansive lobby that sweeps around the building takes its form from the terraced seating configuration that sits above.

The basic structure forms the essence of the architecture. The steel roof structure in the worship space displays a radial pattern, fanning out from a center point to envelop the entire assembly of people, and focus them on the proceedings on the main stage. State-of-the-art audio/visual and sound systems assist in this purpose, and "cloud" panels nestled within the principal structural elements provide an optimal mix of acoustical reflection. The sprawling stage contains space sufficient for preaching, events, and choirs and bands for both traditional and contemporary services.

Access to the entire building is provided by means of the generous arcing lobby stretching the entire building length, featuring full height glass walls through which the new city springing up all around is viewed. A variety of luxury vinyl flooring materials, in an arresting array of shapes and patterns, provides contrast with the coffered ceilings and cast stone wall and column facings.

The soaring entry tower is capped off with copper-coated metal roofing, and also features a copper-coated coated cross reaching almost four stories in height, highlighted against a vast stretch of curtainwall. Brick masonry which complements the existing campus structures, and cast stone complete the exterior composition. 

A "partnering" approach was utilized to deliver the project. The general contractor was pre-selected in a competitive qualifications and proposal process; and the principal mechanical, electrical, and plumbing subcontractors provided design/build systems, as did the sound and A/V system provider. For convenience and accountability, the construction and FF&E systems were all delivered under a single contract.

The result is a stunning addition to the regional cityscape, and a beautiful and functional facility for Christian worship.

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