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Church of the Incarnation

Church of the Incarnation has been a presence in the Uptown area of Dallas since 1927. The cathedral recently expanded their outreach to the community with the addition of a Gothic style chapel with state-of- the- art media. Full height glass reveals the new Children's Education Building and Gathering Hall.

In the hub of the Dallas, Texas, metroplex, just north of the downtown skyscrapers, a humming and vibrant area dubbed Uptown pulses with activity: pedestrians patronizing restaurants and retail, bicyclists dodging cars, townhouse and high rise residents walking very large and very small dogs, and vintage trolley cars rolling down their tracks.  At the perimeter of the Uptown area defined by Highway 75 that bisects Dallas, a lovely Gothic designed Episcopal cathedral towers over the old trees in the urban park across the street.  Church of the Incarnation in Uptown began as a Chapel in 1927 and expanded to include a full Gothic Sanctuary in 1954, with a mid-century education building added in 1966.  As the Uptown resident population, largely millennials, swelled, the church attendance also grew, and the new Rector, Bishop Anthony Burton, noticed something.  Millennials that had left the church in search of a contemporary service with contemporary music were beginning to return because they missed the liturgy and pageantry of the high church Episcopal service.  So Bishop Burton had a vision: a Gothic architecture worship venue with a band playing contemporary music, concert level audio visual media, sound and lighting, and traditional liturgy performed by clergy in clerical collars rather than traditional vestments. In his vision, the Gothic architecture would be transparent, with full height glass fronting on one of the main traffic arteries through Uptown to exhibit the vibrancy of the church activity.  Visible through the glass would be the new Children's Education Building and the Great Hall which would connect the existing Sanctuary and Multi-Purpose Building with the new Chapel and Gathering Space. The campus expansion would also include a nearby homeless teen outreach center, called Incarnation House, which serves the large population of disadvantaged teens at the interurban high school down the street. Incarnation House has strategically located entrances where the homeless teens' privacy is preserved as they utilize the counseling and training services provided there.  As Bishop Burton put it, "Homeless kids don't want people to know that they are homeless."  The existing campus filled an entire city block. The new design spanned a newly closed street to encompass two city blocks. The church hoped initially to purchase land adjoining their site, but when the owners were not ready to sell, the design focus shifted to how to accommodate the new buildings on the available site.  The design team found that sometimes challenges inspire superior solutions. The narrow site prompted the design team to make use of the closed street and design a Gothic-style linear progression that makes the entire church look like it was constructed at the same time. A new Welcome Center with a hammer beam wood truss ceiling, located over the former street, became the hub connecting the existing structures to the new.  The new Contemporary Worship venue, Ascension Chapel, also features the hammer beam truss ceiling thirty feet above traditional slate floors, but with custom Gothic multi-arm pendant fixtures that house state of the art color changing LED lighting.  Gothic architecture presented special challenges for the Audio Visual design team, in this case, Idibri.  On a large majority of the walls, Baswaphon, a sound absorbing wall plaster was used to provide absorption and control sound reflection back to the Chancel Area.  Special directional speakers were incorporated to aim the sound towards the worshipers and away from the windows, walls and ceilings. A large sound booth at the back of the Chapel houses state of the art programmable controls for lighting, video and sound.  The technology is high impact when in use, but recedes into the background during worship.  Church of the Incarnation installed in the Ascension Chapel the first of a series of hand-blown stained glass windows created using the same designs and techniques used in the great Cathedrals of 13th century Europe. Each window requires 18 months to fabricate and is made by hand by stained glass artisans in Canterbury, England. Successive windows will be added to the Chapel in the future. Bishop Burton's vision became reality as his Contemporary Worship service attendance swelled upon the opening of Ascension Chapel.  Another vision of his was also fulfilled: the new Welcome Center Gathering Hall became the connecting link not only between the existing and new campuses, but also between the Traditional and Contemporary Worship parishioners, heading off the concern of the congregation evolving into two separate parishes.

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