Memorial Baptist Church

Memorial Baptist Church engaged with Studio Four Design to transform an existing, derelict building that had served as an auto dealership for over 40 years to give it new life and Kingdom building purpose as a permanent home for their church body and ministry.

Memorial Baptist Church was founded in 2010 as a new church plant in the town of Newport, Tennessee under the leadership of Rev. Harold Ball.  They began meeting and worshipping together in a local Presbyterian Church that was gracious to share their facility with them at alternating hours on Sundays and Wednesdays.  As the church began to grow they came across the opportunity to purchase a building and property at auction that had been developed in the mid-1960’s as a Chevrolet auto dealership.  Although this building had changed owners several times for over 40 years this building served a variety of automotive businesses.

Eventually the building was abandoned and had sat unused and deteriorating for over ten years. Indeed, it was becoming an eyesore along Broadway, which is a major road through the city.  With no expectation for acquiring the property, the church made a bid on the for an amount that they felt they could afford.  Several developers that were expected to bid on the property did not make an offer and God delivered this property to the church for half of what the sale price was expected to be.

New Campus Construction/Existing Building ( Memorial Baptist Church)

Newport, Tennesse
Project Size: 301-800 Seats
Completion Date: April 26, 2015

Soon after that the church engaged with Studio Four Design to work together to transform this derelict building into one that would give new life as a home for their church body. The building, at approximately 15,200sf was comprised of a showroom, several offices, restrooms and a large space for vehicle repair.  Desperately needing a new roof to prevent further deterioration of the facility, the church had this replaced while S4D was working on the design. 

Through the programming phase, the church discovered what they wanted their own brand and identity to represent within the community. They wanted a transitional ministry to bridge the gap between traditional Baptist church models and contemporary church models that appeal more to younger generations.  The building renovation reflected this transitional model by providing some traditional church design elements in slightly different ways.

The existing asymmetrical layout of the building dictated a design that was more contemporary than traditional layouts. A new 400sf entry lobby was necessary to provide a key circulation connection and focal point for the building entry.  Two circulation spines were established to divide the key spaces and simplify wayfinding in the building. 

The existing showroom portion of the building became three new adult classrooms and the existing offices and restrooms were transformed into a nursery and four children’s classrooms all within close proximity to the worship center.

The former auto repair bay portion of the building was divided into three spaces. 

The first part provided an extension for the new lobby and an entrance to the worship center flanked on either side by new public restrooms and church offices.  Beyond that space was provided for a 350-seat auditorium with a stage, choir loft, baptistery and backstage support/utility spaces.  Behind that a fellowship/multi-purpose space was provided with a kitchen and restrooms to serve that area.

The exterior of the building was updated to reflect the church’s brand and identity by using traditional materials such as limestone and brick applied in ways to reflect a more transitional design.

Furthermore, wall construction was designed to be more energy efficient to create a more functional and insulated interior environment.  The exterior metal wall panels and CMU were painted to match the new materials to complete the transformation.

In addition to the building, several improvements were made to the site. The existing paved parking lot was patched, repaired and restriped with some additional paved parking areas provided.  New sidewalks and a concrete and plaza was provided at the entry to the building and the limits of the site were dressed up, re-seeded and new landscaping was installed.

All of this work was accomplished for a construction cost of $1,061,000 which translates into $68.00/sf.  This is approximately half of what this project would have cost had it been all new construction on an undeveloped site.

By renovating this building not only did Memorial Baptist provide a new home and identity for their ministry, they were able to take a property that had been run down and useless and restore it to a new life with a Kingdom building purpose. 

This project not only accomplished all of the goals it needed to as a design and building project it also serves as a great illustration of the transformative power of the Gospel to restore and transform our lives from hopelessness to a new purpose and life through Jesus Christ!


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