First United Methodist Church is a growing congregation located in the historic downtown district of McKinney, Texas. The student ministry had outgrown its space on the second floor of the pre-existing education building and was needing to expand when an opportunity arose to purchase a piece of property adjacent to the church's existing campus. This 150-plus-year-old church has been a staple in the community and is well known by its iconic gothic architecture. So, the challenge for architects was to develop a modern student building that captured youth interest while also remaining connected to the heritage of the existing campus and to the context of being located in an historic downtown interest.
The initial design goals were three-fold. First, develop modern ministry space for students while incorporating the heritage of a 150-plus-year-old existing campus. Second, provide for flexibility by creating spaces that can serve a variety of users, including student ministry, adults, conference groups, etc. Third, connect with the surrounding community.
In an effort to be relevant to a younger generation, the new building was conceived with modern design forms that contrast the gothic architecture forms of the main church campus. In order to connect the "new" with the "old," building materials and design details from the existing campus (i.e., brick, cast stone, etc.) where incorporated throughout the new student building.
The clean lines of the modern architecture mixed with an "industrial" styling, enabling an incorporation of icon symbols, such as the Cross. Traditional Methodist symbols, like the Cross and Flame, were expressed in a contemporary interpretation of steel and perforated metal on the front façade of the glass stair tower, further linking the new building to the existing campus.
Student Building (First United Methodist Church McKinney)
Project Size: 301-800 seats
Completion Date: September 16, 2013
The overall theme for the space consisted of an industrial style that can be considered "playful" for students and at the same time considered "sophisticated" for adults and other users. The worship center is designed to incorporate 250 seats though large overhead doors along the back can be opened to enable this room to increase its seating capacity for large events. Classrooms have been designed using folding partitions to provide for a multitude of venue sizes.
An outdoor covered pavilion can host a variety of activities ranging from basketball and volleyball games to dining events, "hang space" and worship events.
Transparency turns the building inside out, with the colorful interiors and activities visible at all hours of the day and night. Large window wall systems are employed to provide views "into" the building from the street, enabling the community to "see into the church" while, at the same time, enabling the church to "shine" into the community. The large windows also provided "framed views" back to the existing campus.
This project represents a growing trend among churches, where no longer are students given the "leftover" spaces in the back of hallways of old education buildings. Rather, the student ministry has become a catalyst for reaching families and resulting in student space being moved to the forefront of the campus.