Harvest New Beginnings

Carlson Architecture's worship center addition design included a 1300 seat multi-use worship space and a naturally lit gathering space with welcome center and café for before and after service fellowship. The addition nearly doubled their current facility complex and met the need for bringing the congregation together in fewer services.

Harvest New Beginnings (aka, Harvest Baptist Church) built its first facility in the 1970s. Since that time, several addition and renovation projects have taken place in response to a growing ministry. In 2008, more than a dozen acres of adjacent property were donated to the church, expanding the site to a total of 31 Acres. At the time, the church offered four weekend services in its 450-seat worship space. In an effort to accommodate more people in worship, the church was forced to employ the less than desirable "remote video venue" in a distant room on the second floor.

Struggling with an inadequately sized worship space, an acoustically difficult lobby environment, and insufficient parking spaces, the church began its "Arise and Build" Campaign. In 2009, the church hired Carlson Architecture to develop a master plan and design an addition that could meet the church's current and future needs in order to eliminate the video venue, cut the number of services by half, and bring more people together at one time on Sunday morning.

The challenge of designing an addition to the current church building was two-fold. First, the existing building was wedged tightly into a narrow pie-shaped portion of the site, leaving few options for making connections to the existing building. Second, the existing building was located on the lowest elevation of the property. The remaining undeveloped portion of the site sloped downward to the existing building, creating a storm water drainage problem. Any new building addition was going to block the natural drainage of storm water across the site. Carlson Architecture was able to solve both issues by pulling the worship center addition away from the existing structure and implementing a raised connecting corridor.

The design raised the floor elevation of the addition two inches above the existing floor elevation, keeping the new addition floor flush with the higher surrounding grade to avoid interior or exterior stairs. The connecting corridor was engineered as a ramp and bridge that enabled a smooth transition into the new worship center from the existing building. It also enabled storm water to follow its natural drainage path across the site between the new and existing buildings.

Worship Center AdditionHarvest New Beginnings)

Oswego, Illinois
Project Size: 801-2000 seats
Completion Date: June 29, 2014

The new 31,000-square-foot worship center addition consists of a 1,300-seat worship space, lobby, café, welcome center, restrooms, coat room, cry room, and backstage support spaces. Although the primary use of the space is worship, it has been designed for multiple fellowship and recreational uses that include basketball, volleyball, and AWANA. New storm water detention, new septic systems, and 400 additional parking spaces were incorporated into the site development. Upon entering the new facility, accessible restrooms and a large coat room are available to congregants. As in any good church design, there are nearly twice as many plumbing fixtures in the women's room as there are in the men's room. Also included in the design of the building is an accessible family restroom (with shower) to meet the needs of young families, disabled, elderly, or others requiring assistance.

A high priority for the church is that the lobby, café, and welcome center be open and inviting and encourage fellowship before and after services. This is why the exterior walls of the spaces are primarily floor to ceiling windows, enabling the spaces to be flooded with natural light while visually connecting the indoors to the outdoors. Natural materials, like stone and wood, are prevalent on the interior adding to the warm and inviting atmosphere. The central, high lobby space is surrounded by clerestory windows that also flood the space with natural light.

The lobby is the central gathering space of the addition and is open to the welcome center and café. From the lobby congregants can move easily into the worship space, welcome center, or café. The café is modeled after contemporary coffee bars and is generously sized to serve a large congregation. Nearly a dozen "baristas" serve the needs of the congregation before and after services. Adjacent to the café and the main entrance is an outdoor patio where people are encouraged to gather in good weather. The welcome center is designed to be a warm and comfortable place. This is the "living room" of the church. Guests are encouraged to meet pastors and members of the church, sit by the fire, and learn more about the ministries and happenings of the church.

The worship space entrance doors are opposite the café and welcome center. They were designed to serve as sound barriers and succesully keep sound and light in the lobby from entering the worship space during services. Two large entrance vestibules, each with two layers of six doors, welcome congregants into the worship space. Each vestibule provides an appreciable transition from one grand space into another. The worship space is designed to hold 1,300 people seated on a level floor. The walls of the space are faceted in multiple directions to aid in dispersing sound and enhance the acoustics of the room. The 42-inch high platform allows anyone seated or standing to see the worship leaders, and it is supplemented on either side by large, rear projection screens. The screens have been located, sized and proportioned to the room using professional theatrical criteria. The expansive 1,200-square-foot platform is capable of facilitating both contemporary and traditional worship styles.

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