Worship Facilities is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Maximizing Square Footage without Compromise at River Valley Church

Taking the "DNA" of River Valley Church and expanding it to a language of architecture has been Vanman's joy for the newest campus in Shakopee, Minnesota. Through careful site placement, simple forms, natural light, views into the community, and maximizing square footage, River Valley declares its vision through its building.

River Valley Church’s “DNA” goals of discipleship and fellowship, is declared in their newest campus in Shakopee, Minnesota, designed and built by Vanman Architects and Builders.

The River Valley church’s goal was to be like nothing ever experienced by church-goers before. Taking the “DNA” of River Valley and expanding it to a language of architecture has been Vanman’s joy for several expansions and campus launchings, most recently above mentioned new campus.  Through careful site placement, simple forms, architectural details, light, views into the community, and maximizing square footage, the design of this campus expresses the energy and vitality of the congregation.

New Campus Construction (River Valley Church)

Shakopee, Minnesota
Project Size: 801-2000 seats
Completion Date: April 21, 2015

Vanman aided River Valley Church in the selection of the site and planned for the future expansion of the campus building a mirror of the building to double the worship, children’s and lobby space.  Built in a busy crossroads of commerce, the new campus presents itself to the highway for maximum exposure part of the goal of reaching the community realized.

The building itself is laid out with wings off a central corridor lobby.  Both ends of the lobby are glass, providing views into the community that the church serves.  From the beginning, River Valley Church has focused on the youth and children of the congregation, looking to give them a positive, uplifting and exciting encounter with God.  With this thought in mind, River Valley and Vanman devoted one secured wing of the church to the children’s ministry. 

Bright colors, unusual cut-out windows, and easy to clean flooring typify this kid-focused space.

Across the corridor, the auditorium is constructed with concrete wall panels, helping to indulge in River Valley’s essential rock worship.  Just off the lobby near the front door is the office wing for the campus support staff.  Vanman and River Valley worked to maximize their square footage, putting toilet rooms under the raised seating and creating multi-purpose rooms in the office spaces, children’s wing, and leaving a level space in the worship for potential future events should it prove necessary. 

To create the seating numbers River Valley desired, the most effective building type was precast concrete and steel joists, leaving large, heavy surfaces.  Vanman strategized in the placement of materials and functions to break up the surfaces and create visual interest.  The entry, a focal point in an inverted ‘L’, provides definition of the entrance and a solid base for the cross.

Cedar wood siding stretches from the interior to the exterior to provide a warm welcome.  Windows provide transparency and visibility into the building.

River Valley “DNA” states the desire to be connected.  Vanman showed this through pleasant seating areas and a fireplace to create perfect locations to visit and connect with the parishioners over coffee.  River Valley “DNA” states the desire to be a world-changer.  Through large windows on either end of the lobby, Vanman and River Valley remind the congregation that the world to change sometimes means the community the church serves.

The final project is not “churchy” in appearance unlike any church facility that congregations have experienced.  Yet it declares to the community its intent, church DNA, and its functionality as a church, which Vanman knows can be more important than “looking” like a church.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.