For decades, the Trinity United Methodist Church of Arlington, Texas was based in a facility featuring an 800-seat sanctuary and adjoining classrooms. But by 2010 growing attendance at worship services made clear that in the long run a new campus would better serve its 3000-strong congregation. The church raised funds, bought land and started building. By 2013 it was settled into a brand new $10.65 million home, just over a mile from the old. The centerpiece of the new Trinity UMC is a large, elegantly simple wood-ceilinged sanctuary designed to serve both present and future generations of congregants.
Designed by Scott Martsolf of Fort Worth architectural firm Martsolf Architecture, Trinity UMC's new site provides the church with approximately 75,000 square feet of total space. The new sanctuary, which is 135 feet wide by 105 feet deep, provides at present about the same seating as the old. The difference, Martsolf says, is that the new room was designed with the ability to expand to 1100 seats in the future. In addition to the sanctuary, the space is used for wide-ranging activities that include a pre-school program, Bible study, music and fine arts programs, children’s and youth activities, Sunday school, outreach programs, and ministries focused on singles, seniors and sports.
Acoustical consulting for the new sanctuary was provided by Bill Johnson of Acoustic Design Associates in Dallas. To design and install the sanctuary's sound system, Martsolf brought in Electro Acoustics, Inc., to design a system to meet the church's traditional worship style. Trinity UMC features a custom pipe organ and an exceptional choir. To support that, the room is fairly live, with an RT-60 of 1.7 seconds." The reverberation time puts the room at the short end of the target range typical of concert halls, says Chris Jordan, account manager on the project for Electro Acoustics.
The fairly reverberant environment posed challenges in terms of maintaining intelligibility for the spoken word portions of the services. The potential issue could be resolved in the selection of loudspeakers with well-controlled dispersion, allowing sound energy to be directed toward the seating areas without also spilling onto the room's hard-surfaced walls.
"The EVA line arrays over pattern control even at lower frequencies," Jordan says. "That allows us to provide clear speech to all of the seats in this live environment. "We use the 906s for long throw and the 920s for short throw," Jordan explains. The PA is configured as a left/right pair of arrays, each with two 906s above and three 920s below. The arrays are hung directly above the front lip of the stage, attached to exposed laminated beams using custom-designed rigging hardware.