An adaptive reuse project for a rapidly growing congregation transformed a derelict movie theater into a thriving hub of community activity. What was once a vacant 41,600-square-foot, 12-screen multiplex in an underutilized corner of a 100-acre mixed-use development that attracted illegal activities and blighted the community was transformed by Elevation Church and LS3P into a repurposed facility.
The theater itself was structurally sound, which the design team and congregation recognized as an opportunity for reuse and renewal. Renovations required a tight six-month construction timeframe. The new design salvaged a majority of the structure and the exterior skin, with a goal of celebrating the facility's history while incorporating energetic new elements.
Program spaces include a 1,200-seat auditorium, children's ministry space, two children's performance theaters, a welcome area, spaces for gathering and an AVL suite. The design carved new openings into the exterior concrete façade, providing abundant natural light into the grand entry and children's program areas.
The design team collaborated with the church's creative team to determine interior and exterior elements that would reflect the church's culture and branding. An expansive double-height, glazed entry lobby welcomes members and guests and provides a lantern to the street during evening hours. A prominent horizontal band defines the entry and suggests a sense of shelter. A unique vertical element with a vibrant orange slot serves as a contemporary steeple. A slot of vertical orange glazing energizes the entry and unites the façade.
Facility Repurposing (Elevation Church - Lake Norman Campus)
Cornelius, North Carolina
Project Size: 801-2000 seats
Completion Date: January 14, 2014
The interior layout maximizes the space, with the central auditorium occupying existing theater space to minimize structural changes. The inviting and light-filled lobby space connects two primary circulation corridors, which employ color and sculptural lighting elements to animate the space. Dramatic sconces accent the walls and ceilings with patterned light and a sense of texture. Children's spaces feature lively colors and a sense of transparency with interior glass walls.
In addition to achieving a rapid transformation that provided urgently needed space, the new church has created a hub of community activity to completely reinvigorate the blighted neighborhood. The church brings energy and activity to support adjacent businesses, offers shared spaces for performing arts events for the community and activates a once-stagnant façade with a strong visual connection to the street.
For the congregation, the new facility provides welcome room for expansion and a state-of-the-art facility that accommodates both in-person worship and broadcast to satellite campuses. The layout welcomes members and visitors with spacious, inviting gathering places. A dedicated family-only entrance facilitates efficient drop-off and pick-up for children's activities, and the building accommodates a variety of programs for all age groups.
The successful adaptive re-use project respects the building's original design, while incorporating contemporary elements to accommodate the church's needs for expanded space, community energy and a welcoming environment for members and visitors. In addition to salvaging an underutilized structure, the project's neighborhood revitalization impacts were immediate and catalytic and may encourage similar adaptive reuse projects for future developments.