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Free Chapel Orange County - Complete Renovation

Free Chapel Orange County - Complete Renovation

A two story former office building with 15ft ceiling trim height is not normally considered an ideal skeleton for a modern worship environment. However, innovative design and intentional execution by the Mankin team results in one of the most unique and engaging worship environments in the United States.

Free Chapel's Orange County campus is widely considered one of the most influential churches in Southern California, regularly hosting well known speakers and worship leaders, as well as serving as the west coast hub for Jentezen Franklin's television ministry, Kingdom Connections. We had been talking and dreaming about giving this space a makeover and increasing its effectiveness for years, and in 2015, we were formally engaged to make it happen.



The church meets in an old two story office building, and each floor has a trim height of less than 15 feet with structural columns throughout. This has been a limitation to creating environments that represent their highly participatory vision since they moved into the building eight years ago. We partnered closely with the architect to support Free Chapel's vision through advanced modeling, sight line studies, and collaborative design.

Complete Renovation (Free Chapel Orange County)

Irvine, California
Project Size: 801-2000 seats
Completion Date: August 28, 2016


Early on, it was determined that a traditional worship center or theater with an end stage feel would not suffice. Instead, the stage was designed to make it feel like they are leading "in the round," enhancing their values of community and participation. This is supported by non-conventional seating arrangements, using lighting to craft the visual experience, and a large visual canvas to reinforce the content presented on stage.


The project took place during six weeks of construction in a race to meet the deadline for DIVINE, Free Chapel's Women's Conference. The overall scope included the removal of multiple load bearing columns, moving and removing of walls, an expanded stage, and more. We were pulling wire and installing state of the art gear while contractors simultaneously installed over 4,000 feet of conduit infrastructure.


Guardian by Mankin, an exclusive and innovative managed services plan, ensures Free Chapel’s production systems live up to their full potential. The systems are designed and optimized to allow for real-time remote support from our state-of-the-art network operations center located in Franklin, TN during all weekend services and events.

Tech Highlights

High impact, warm audio is always the first priority of any Free Chapel space. We crafted the new loudspeaker system and seating plan around 6 hangs of PA that follow the outline of the stage and structural columns so that dead spots created by the shadows of those columns fall into the aisles. L'Acoustics Kiva main speakers plus SB15 subwoofers provide a warm, punchy character to the room, with SB28 subwoofers below the stage and 8XT delay speakers. A Digico SD10 console with Optocore based stage racks, Sennheiser Wireless Mics, and Shure Wireless In-Ears ensure the PA always sounds its best. Also, the entire system operates digitally at high resolution 96kHz.

The video system is based around an Imagine Communications Platinum router with on-board multi viewers and audio routing inside the same frame, Hitachi cameras creating images to feed a Ross Carbonite switcher, and multiple Renewed Vision/Apple/Blackmagic Designs graphics stations. CreateLED 3.9mm LED walls with Novastar processing are utilized for side screens, a center screen, as well as video set pieces, and a Clearcom Matrix Intercom system ensures the crew can communicate effectively during productions.

The theatrical lighting system is 100% LED, built entirely around a number of Chauvet fixtures from the Rogue, Colorado, and Nexus lines. Lighting plots were especially challenging due to the extremely low trim height over the stage, thus fixtures capable of a wide range of beam angles were especially important so the lighting wouldn't feel as close to artists on stage as it actually was.

Free Chapel utilizes the bulletproof Imagine Communications Selenio platform for two streams of video transmission to this campus from the main broadcast site in Gainesville, GA.


The collaboration between Mankin Media Systems and Free Chapel’s architect, Brewster, Crocker & Associates, allows the unique values of the Free Chapel weekend services experience to be exploited to the max, turning an unconventional space into one of the most engaging and intentional rooms in the United States.

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