Focused on building community through quality connections, the Denver First Church of the Nazarene (DFC) expanded its facility to transform a physically restrictive space into a welcoming and engaging community beacon. Shaping the church's vision were the ideas of transparency, accessibility, and unity.
For over 100 years, DFC has been the "Mother church" to 15 other Nazarene congregations in Denver. The original church was constructed in 1974. Now, joining that existing structure on its hilltop is the Family Life Center, which was added earlier this year.
The vision for a Family Life Center was focused on connections and borne of the need to provide a welcoming beacon for attendees and new-comers. The idea was to create additional connection and fellowship space for community life as well as a multipurpose space for worship, learning, events, and recreation. The Family Life Center expansion features a 9,000-square-foot atrium that is two-stories high, a full-size gym for recreation (with a flexible stage for contemporary worship use), and a mezzanine overlooking the atrium.
The original church was constructed of heavy stone, dark brick, stucco, and metal as primary building components. The Beck Group's design for the DFC expansion employed similar materials to connect the old and new—stone as a strong base and foundation, with folded metal panels similar to what capped the adjacent sanctuary building.
Family Life Center Expansion (Denver First Church of the Nazarene)
Cherry Hills Village, Colorado
Project Size: 2001+ seats
Completion Date: June 12, 2015
Situated along Hampden Avenue, a major thoroughfare, the expansion offered a new two-story glass entry as a transparent connection between the old and new construction. The glass façade glows at evening hours, helping create a "lantern" or "beacon" calling the community to find spiritual refuge.
At one time, the church sanctuary and surrounding circular corridor offered adequate space for conversation and fellowship. Over time, however, space could no longer keep pace with the church's mission as the congregation grew and the circulation corridors and sanctuary became intimate and restrictive. The expansion provided a large two-story atrium to allow for the important connections and cross-pollination between young and old, believers and non-believers, to facilitate true fellowship before and after services.
Providing enhanced congregational connections was another goal for the DFC expansion. The design integrated several components to meet this goal, including a new large-scale, full-service kitchen for large church dinners and functions that would further knit the congregation together. Within the multipurpose gymnasium, an elevated stage was designed for a more intimate and contemporary service, complete with backstage area, capacity for audio-visual enhancements, and flexibility for future worship needs.
Additionally, the church's leadership wished to create a space for recreational activities as a way to outreach to the surrounding community. The gymnasium design offers a regulation-sized basketball court (also suitable for volleyball), restrooms, and shower facilities. With the addition of this space, the church has generated a new outreach-focused sports ministry called "DFC Metro/Rec," a positive, family-oriented recreation experience. From adult co-ed group sports to daytime youth programs and fitness classes for all ages, this ministry offers a bridge to reach those who traditionally would not attend church or church functions.