Church of the Highlands

The 520-seat chapel at Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Ala. is a traditional facility with multifaceted AVL capabilities. It serves as a unique venue for weddings, memorial services, special events, and Sunday services. Working with natural stone, slate, stucco, travertine, and wood timbers, JohnsonKreis Construction created a space that compliments the adjacent main contemporary church.

The main campus of Birmingham, Ala.-based Church of the Highlands is active and growing. In fact, the congregation has seen enormous growth, comprised of a diverse group of members. To help meet the needs of this growing church campus, JohnsonKreis Construction partnered with Church of the Highlands to complete a 520-seat traditional chapel. The Chapel serves as a place for weddings, memorial services, special events, and Sunday services, catering to members who prefer a more traditional style of worship.

Carefully situated next to the main contemporary church facility, the chapel is overflowing with ambiance. The exterior is comprised of a slate roof, stucco, natural stone, and wood timbers. The front of the chapel welcomes congregants with arched double doors and large custom-crafted steel Hope windows.

Entering through the arched doorways, the travertine tile, dark wood pews, and beautiful Old World pendant lights make the chapel warm and inviting. In the main room, incandescent lights, low-to-the-ground windows, and a second set of roof-line windows flood the entire chapel with warm natural light that bounces beautifully off most every part of the interior.

New Chapel Construction (Church of the Highlands)

Birmingham, Alabama
Project Size: 301-800 seats
Completion Date: January 9, 2015

Great lengths were taken to hide technology and other equipment that would take away from the softness of the facility. For example, video screens retract into the vaulted ceiling and speakers are carefully hidden. "Sound was difficult, because optimal placement for speakers is hanging from the center ceiling," explains Scott Montgomery, associate pastor and chapel project manager.

Highlands production manager, Justin Firesheets adds, "Instead of having visible speakers in the room, we needed to design them in a way that they could be hidden from view but still be effective. We also needed to make sure that the acoustics of the room would work even when there was no sound reinforcement, like in a wedding or memorial service. We had to be sure to properly invest in technology design and install to meet these goals."

"This is a multipurpose, multifunctional, mutigenerational, technical space," boasts Armando Fullwood, director of WAVE, the AVL firm selected for the project. "It needed to feel and sound traditional, be able to host a band, and also serve as a multipurpose video venue. That's tremendous flexibility."

To take advantage of the beautiful Alabama weather, an outdoor ceremony site was added. Complete with a Western Red Cedar pergola lit with lanterns, the space features a tiered platform wired for sound and video. It is landscaped with trees and shubbery to serve as an ideal photo shoot location.

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