The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd project is a transformational change to the life of a congregation. The project consisted of a complete addition and upgrade of an existing church building that had outlived its useful life and exhibited challenges in indoor air quality, safety and ongoing maintenance to the church and congregation. It is an inspiring story of growth and attainment.
This landmark Austin, Texas, church has expanded from its original 59 members to be one of the 20 largest Episcopal churches in the nation. Built in 1950 with old building codes and design concepts, Good Shepherd has amplified its mission and facilities bit-by-bit, parcel-by-parcel and with tithes and offerings collected from dedicated believers over the decades.
The renewal and expansion of the heart of the Good Shepherd Worship Building provides an entirely new HVAC system; new metal shingle roof system with insulated decking; new gutter system; restored, improved, and expanded electrical, lighting, and audio-visual systems; restored pews; restored and enhanced stained-glass windows; a new slate floor; an expanded "narthex" (foyer) including bathrooms and festival seating; increased seating and accessibility for the mobility-impaired; a 25-bell carillon; and a custom built pipe organ from Canada. This final phase of the project was integrated into a 12-year master plan.
The entire team successfully fit the work into the campus, while the recently completed Parish Life Center served the need of the parishioners with church services, weddings, funerals, and all the other administrative work. The project successfully worked around, and adjacent to, "Heritage Trees" with a robust and careful implementation of tree protection. The work was further complicated by the fact that the existing church had grown slowly through the decades by acquisition of neighboring properties. This resulted in an amalgamation of infrastructure of old water mains, gas lines, and sewer lines which were in disrepair and mandated upgrades by local municipalities.
The challenge of distinguishing live service from abandoned lines was approached with painstaking location techniques such as video inspections, but often involving two men with a garden hose feeding water into a line and watching where it surfaced. Sanctuary expansion required removal of the entire front exterior wall and demolition of the HVAC/Electrical systems. The potential exposure to outside humidity caused great concern for the integrity of ornate wood ceilings throughout the existing space.
Engineers were tasked to design a temporary structural demising wall rising from floor to deck just inside the building. Not only did the wall protect the existing space from damage, but it also provided support for the building envelope to which the new structure would be attached. Due to these concerns, a temperature and humidity control plan was implemented. Humidity and temperature sensors were placed throughout the building along with dehumidifiers and, depending on the current weather conditions, temporary air conditioners or heaters to maintain the environment during Austin's most humid season.
The church is located in a predominately residential area which required parking of construction personnel on local streets managing the need for sensitivity to neighbors. Construction of the new addition was challenged by only being able to access the site on the west end. All other elevations of the building were blocked from access either due to existing buildings, a columbarium, or a grove of heritage trees. Each of the areas were either off-limits or needed to remain open to the parish needs.
To further limit access, the fire drive for the recently completed Parish Life Center needed to remain unobstructed as per the requirements of the local fire Department. Since the campus also houses a newly constructed School and Parish Life Center, as well as other Administrative buildings, close coordination with the church/school staff was imperative to the success of the project. Our team worked around drop-off/pick-up schedules for the kids three times per day, funerals, weddings and sometimes changing general parish activities.
Scheduling of material deliveries, concrete pours, erection cranes and the like all had to take both the neighborhood into account, as well as the aforementioned requirements of a church and its administrative functions. The budget was an overarching component of the ability to afford the required work. Multiple cost studies during preconstruction was carried out to discover the most cost effective means of addressing the whole budget that also included the cost of the recently completed Education Building, Parish Life Center and their second campus across town.
Weekly meetings chronicled and documented the ongoing costs for the benefit of the building committee as decisions were made toward the final scope of project.
Throughout the project, the team presented weekly updates to the ongoing "three-week look ahead" schedule which were integrated into the total project CPM schedule. This was updated and presented at owner meetings so the church staff could anticipate and plan the eventual move-in and set-up for Christmas Eve Services. This was a critical task each week due that the construction team was presented with multiple hard delivery dates.
Whether it was a custom-built pipe organ coming from Canada, to a handcrafted 25-bell carillon from Ohio, these procedures were implemented to track the most critical decisions to keep them front and center in the decision-making process and kept the project team moving forward successfully.
Finally, the team of Owner's, designers and parish administrators required all members to work with each other toward a common goal within the constraints of an overall budget. The preconstruction and planning components always had to be weighed with a cost-benefit analysis of the planned changes and the discoveries that are inherent in a remodel of an old, existing structure. Weekly meetings were maintained during construction so all parties could work toward this common goal.