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First Presbyterian Midland

First Presbyterian Church of Midland updated their chapel to become a multi-functional space. It was transformed from a dark, closed off part of the church, into a beautiful, open space for events, while maintaining the church's rich heritage.

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 inside of the facility, several key areas were selected for these renovations:  Repurposing and updating the existing chapel Establishing a front door Maintaining the rich history of the facility Realizing a place for informal fellowship including an informal café Creating a dedicated space for youth One of the key areas that connected the inside to the outside was the existing chapel. The chapel was oriented off the street rather than off the existing building. The stained-glass windows were dingy, only allowing a small amount of yellowish light into the space. The existing floor was sloped, forcing the church to utilize the chapel in only one direction. And the antiquated sound system and minimal acoustics limited the use of the space to speaking engagements. Due to all these factors, the space was only used sporadically for small weddings and funerals.   The church wanted to make the chapel a functioning space once more. To do this, the building committee didn't want to just update the finishes, but they wanted to turn the space into a multi-functional area to hold lectures, exhibitions, music recitals, weddings, funerals and sunrise services.   First, the architect had to address the function and orientation of the chapel. The sloped floor was infilled and leveled with concrete. In order to create more space, the east and west walls were knocked out and the space was expanded, creating a transept. The chancel area was replaced with an interior door that connected back to the main church and a balcony that would be used by the youth for a classroom. The addition of the balcony also created a unique venue for ensembles, performers and guest speakers.   New finishes were introduced to freshen up the room, and a new flooring pattern was introduced to remove the dominant orientation to the former chancel. A lighter paint was selected to help natural light illuminate the space. Acoustic panels were introduced into the ceiling to absorb sound and reduce any flutter echoes. A new digital sound system was installed with preset settings for spoken word, vocals or instrumental set ups.   To preserve the rich history for the church, several medallions from the existing stained-glass windows were salvaged and incorporated into the new design. Large Alpha and Omega symbols were salvaged and incorporated into the balcony railing. The use of these historical elements helped blend the existing traditional architecture with the more modern style that was a part of the renovations.   New windows were installed in lieu of the existing stained glass to allow natural light to permeate the space. Though the use of natural light reduces much of the need for artificial light, allowing the facility to run on less energy, the large windows also create a transparency to the community, allowing people to see what functions are going on in the church and drawing them inside.    A folding glass wall was introduced along the east facade of the existing chapel that opens onto a new amphitheater, allowing the chapel to also be used as a stage and connection to the community.   Before, the chapel was a dark, closed off part of the church. Now, it is a multi-purpose venue and has become a connection between the church's inside and outside spaces. It is a transparent, warm and welcoming center to the church and the community around it.

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