Our design intended to make use of the amazing mature trees on our lot. An old circle drive of 150-year-old oaks, as well as newer 40-50 year oaks, would be essential in highlighting the natural beauty. Every effort was made to carefully preserve every tree possible. Our back property line is a creek, thus we felt like our property should feel like a park where people come for peace. We are also located in a semi-rural part of Alabama where many men enjoy hunting. To reach men (some of the least-likely to want to be in church on a Sunday), we felt we needed a place designed with them in mind. Since many men would want to be in their hunting camp on the weekend, our design would take on a lodge feel with many natural materials. Our 8,300 sq ft project was also done with a tight budget in mind. We wanted the whole project to come in under $1 million. Scientific Engineering was selected as the contractor with Ray Torode as our architect.
The facility is a metal building with a metal roof, board and baton siding, and stone accents. The large front and back porches create a welcome environment with stone base columns. The small side-wall windows were made to look larger with an architectural design using a shutter look to give height. A color scheme was chosen that fits in with the surrounding community and a national park feel. A playground is located in the front left outside the building, making a statement to kids and families. The back porch has a circle drive creating an easy access point for disabled and elderly. To highlight the trees as the church is viewed from the street, parking was intentionally set to both sides. Thus the church appears to be in the woods. We desired a unique sign that would make a statement that we are not a traditional church. A custom road sign was developed out of concrete forms and cut aluminum that highlights our logo. At night the sign is back-light.
Our worship center space incorporated some natural light with windows placed high on the wall to keep eyes in the trees and sky. We used an open concept ceiling with 12-foot side walls. The seating capacity is 253. Velocity Productions in Atlanta worked with the natural light in their AVL design. A custom 16-foot video screen is the center of the back stage wall with all LED stage and house lighting using a Jands CL board. Sound modeling for the audio suggested two points of placement for the Martin Audio CDD12 and Blackline X210 subs. The church used its existing Allen & Heath QU16 and Sennheiser mics to keep the budget down. The band and pastor have a 65-inch monitor in the back of the room.
The large atrium space is highlighted with end wall windows to bring in the natural light and draw your eyes into the trees, feeling like you are in the lodge of a national park. Above the glass and running across the ceiling is 25-year-old reclaimed dock wood, which gives texture and warmth to the space. The leather-stained concrete floors run throughout the building, allowing easy clean up. Off the atrium there is a small kitchen/coffee space, with granite counter tops and brick back-splash. The coffee space can be closed off with custom rolling barn style doors. There are two bistro tables and several seating spaces that invite people to conversation. A comfortable prayer room was located in this area just off the worship center to provided a private place for counseling and prayer. Even the restrooms on the atrium received special attention. Brick back-splashes, pier-style lighting, and galvanized pipe toilet-paper holders provide unique elements. A portable baptistry is brought in to the atrium for an intimate baptismal service where people can gather around. The atrium also functions as a connecting corridor in the master plan when future phases are added.
The education space is located just off the atrium and was designed with security in mind. Past the check in desk, the area features one large classroom for elementary age and another large classroom for student ministry. Three smaller rooms include the nursery, preschool, and lower elementary rooms. Office space was kept to a minimum with only one dedicated office for the senior pastor. Other staff use portable set ups in several of the classrooms.
The church also wanted to take advantage of the beautiful space by the creek and created an outdoor gathering space with wood benches. A creek-side worship area has been utilized the past 3 Easters for a sunrise service with the oaks and dogwoods blooming as the sun rises over the creek. We have used the creek for baptisms, kids events, and BBQ’s.
Energy efficiency was also a key factor. Through a combination of shade from oaks, LED lighting, insulation, and energy efficient heat pumps, our mid-summer power bill in Alabama was only about $400.