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Solomon Awards 2019 – First Baptist Church (Church Building Design – Traditional and Contemporary)

  • First Baptist Church.
To expand their outreach, First Baptist Church of Jacksonville launched its satellite campus at a local high school gymnasium in Nocatee, which is a planned community near Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

After experiencing rapid growth, they decided to invest in a permanent, but flexible home, so their ministry could grow along with the community. CDH used a thorough master planning process to help them assess their needs, and together with the church developed a two-phase solution for sustained growth.

CDH worked with the church for several years to complete a master plan for the proposed property. Not only were the current needs of the church considered, but also the future needs. Each phase would be moving forward in a balanced manner accommodating congregational growth. The goal was to provide the residents in the area a nourishing sense of community. This was accomplished with the development and construction of a very special place to worship, learn while also providing opportunities for indoor and outdoor activities.

In a nod to their humble beginnings the congregation was very comfortable with the prospects of utilizing a multipurpose room for worship. The space can provide flexible us opportunities for worship, fellowship and recreation. First Baptist Church considered this a win/win in that they were meeting the needs of the church, and they were supporting the community that could benefit from such a dynamic facility.

Phase one provides a multipurpose room that is specifically designed to work as a state-of-the-art auditorium on Sunday morning, a spacious fellowship space for a multitude of needs and a gymnasium for recreation during the week. This multipurpose approach gives them more bang for their buck, by ensuring that the facility is used much more than just on Sunday morning.

It is challenging to provide a powerful worship experience in a space that is designed for something else. The quality of the acoustics, sound, lighting and even the mood of the space in a gym are challenging. CDH worked closely with the WAVE, the AVL designers and acousticians, as an integrated part of the team during schematic design to insure that these challenges could be overcome in an innovative way. The interior design of the multipurpose gym was driven by the needs of the ministry, so that it feels like you are playing basketball in an auditorium, not worshipping in a gym. At the same time, no sacrifices were made with the ability to use the space for recreation.

Phase one was designed to include generous gathering space that acts as a connective spine along the exterior of the front of the facility. Typically, circulation space would be in the core of the facility. Instead, its placement is intentionally along the exterior to flood it with natural light and unite the interior with the exterior.

The gathering space includes soft seating, a greeting center, a children’s ministry check-in and an indoor play area. The result is a casual, comfortable area for the multi-generational community to grow and thrive.

There is nothing quite like enjoying a hot beverage outdoors early in the morning when the air is cool, and the world is waking up. The full-service café at the heart of the building spills visually and physically into the outdoor patio. The patio is covered by a wood trellis that was designed with vertical members on the south side, and horizontal members above, to both protect from the sun and create ephemeral moments of sprinkled light and shadow across the walls and ground.

Growing and maintaining children and student ministries is a primary challenge of worship facilities in the current culture. Childhood is the most influential period to explore the faith journey. The church challenged us to create an engaging and secure environment, while also meeting a budget capacity of a young, growing congregation. This was accomplished by utilizing finish materials such as paint, carpet, and tile in imaginative and nontraditional ways that evoke energy and excitement. When the church’s young members step inside, they immediately feel that this space was created especially for them, and they want to come back week after week.

Since the church expressed an emphasis on spending time outdoors and making their campus attractive for the community, a nature-based approach was used. The exterior of the building was designed using three contrasting but complementing materials; wood, stone and textured stucco.

These natural features tend to help people feel comfortable and inspired. So, when people are playing sports on the activity fields or just enjoying the outdoors the building is the heart of the campus and a complimenting element in the landscape.

Phase two, which will be built as growth and needs dictate, will provide a dedicated sanctuary, gathering space, kitchen, administration suite with conference rooms, adult classrooms, and a music rehearsal room. It was planned and designed to be a continuity link for a state-of-the-art children and youth ministry facility. It includes classrooms for a day school and Sunday school, a youth assembly room, café, and related support spaces.

As an extension of the First Baptist Jacksonville family, the beautiful, functional new facility focuses on its local connections and community outreach. The church’s goal is to be integral part of one of the fastest growing communities in the country.

The campus is a welcomed addition to Nocatee, providing residents with an exciting and meaningful worship experience, a place for fellowship and recreation. They have succeeded in developing their vision in providing a special place for learning and nurturing young families with the gospel.

Our Worship and Community Studio has designed more than 700 church projects, creating inclusive, supportive and authentic spaces for spiritual enlightenment. We are proud that more than 700,000 people worship each week in facilities we have designed.

Working with one church at a time, our success comes from understanding each organization’s mission, so that we can align its facilities with the needs of its ministries. This process creates vibrant, modern environments that provide the necessary tools to help inspire church members to do great things together.

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