South Park Church

The South Park project converts a fragmented structure into an open environment of clarity and connectedness. The execution of the design is a picture of redemption. It takes something that was broken and restores it through transformational design into a facility with life and vitality.

Restoration through Transformation

Carlson Architecture was hired by South Park Church to assist them identify problematic elements of their existing facility and propose a design solution that would create a cohesive building.

South Park Church is a composite of additions, expansions, and connections that span the church's history. At one time, the site contained two separate church structures; however, they were morphed into a single structure with one of the sanctuaries being demolished to make room for an educational component. The blending of these structures grew out of need; however, they were grafted together in an ineffective manner.

Lobby/Gathering Space Addition and Rennovation (South Park Church)

Park Ridge, Illinois
Project Size: 301+800 seats
Completion Date: February 19, 2015

The existing building lacked a distinguishable main entry, floor elevations were offset, and there was limited space for informal communal gathering. As a result, the internal circulation and organization of programmatic spaces were disjointed.

Once the disfunctions and inefficiencies of the existing facility were identified, it became evident the challenge was to create a design solution that would provide a clear point of entry, improve programmatic adjacencies, and develop fluid internal circulation paths. The finished product is an entry addition with an infill component that functions as an adapter between the sanctuary and the Christian education wing.

A front portico keeps with the traditional aesthetic of the existing building and provides a prominent main entrance. A large expanse of glazing beyond the colonnade allows for natural daylight to penetrate deep into the building cavity.

Upon entering the building, one is welcomed into a double height space with a grand stair leading up to the main level of the sanctuary, lobby, cafe, and children's education. When one ascends the stairs, it becomes quickly evident the transformation from a very segmented interior to one that is a welcoming atmosphere with natural daylight, limited interior walls, and glass balcony railings.

Generous amounts of floor area are devoted to space for congregants to gather and interact before and after services in an informal setting. The open plan creates an environment of clarity and connectedness where congregants can move with fluidity through the facility.

The internal organization of similar programmatic functions have been rearranged into complementary adjacencies. This included consolidating all the children education spaces into a visible and secure location on the main level.

All offices were moved to the lower level below the sanctuary.  A secondary entrance to the office area was incorporated to provide access to the offices throughout the week while the remaining portions of the building can remain secure. The area vacated by the existing offices was renovated into a cafe setting. Additional improvements included new ADA compliant restrooms on both the main and lower level along with a new elevator and exit stair.

The execution of the design is a picture of redemption. The solution took something that was broken and restored it though the process of a transformational design into a facility that now has life and vitality. The new spaces better equip the congregation to continue their established ministries and expand their reach in the community.


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