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Solomon Awards 2019 – First Baptist Church Muskogee (Church Design – Gathering and Community Spaces)

First Baptist Church Muskogee, in Muskogee, Oklahoma, wished to refresh their lobby, which was tired and dated, with very little natural light, making it feel very small. The congregation did not use the lobby to its full potential, and it did not convey the welcoming feeling that Muskogee staff wished to have. Paragon 360 had the opportunity to work with First Baptist Muskogee on the renovation of their sanctuary, and so it was an easy addition to renovate the lobby at the same time. Muskogee wanted to maintain certain historical and traditional elements of their building, and the final renovation plan took this into account. Paragon 360 was able to take Muskogee’s small, dated lobby and give it a new, refreshed feel that was welcoming and open.

While renovating the lobby, Paragon 360 made sure to respect and showcase the traditional aspects of the church, while still creating a modern and open space that would appeal to a new generation. The church lobby and sanctuary had ornate, traditional architectural elements such as heavy moldings, traditional stair railings and doors, coffered ceilings, and stained-glass windows. First Baptist Muskogee tasked Paragon 360 with tying these traditional details into a more modern design that would create a fresh, bright space for their congregation to greet one another and welcome newcomers to the facility.

To meet the goals of Muskogee, Paragon 360 teamed up with Torgerson Design Partners to make significant architectural changes. The design removed walls that lead to the stairs on each end of the lobby, which provided the opportunity for more natural light to pour into the room and created a feeling of openness. The solid wall and heavy wooden doors leading from the lobby into the sanctuary were replaced with windows and glass doors, which also provided more light.

To maintain a warm and personal feeling, a bronze finish was selected for the metal frames, hardware and accents of the windows and doors. The existing trim, columns and coffered ceilings of the lobby were painted a cream color, in order to create a clean, uniform look.

After the lobby was opened up and filled with more natural light, the heavy, ornamental chandeliers that had previously been the main light source were removed. This not only made the space more modern, it created more height in the room and a clean, open feel. The original vinyl plank flooring was also removed and was replaced with a slate styled type of porcelain tile. The lighter gray tones of the durable tile brightened the space significantly. The tile not only complimented the colors of the room, it is easily cared for in this high traffic area.

There were rich wood tones in the sanctuary that needed to be carried over into the lobby for a cohesive feeling throughout the whole building. This cohesiveness was accomplished by creating a bulkhead above each lobby door that lead into the sanctuary. The clean lines of the bulkhead provided a modern look, but the classic wood kept a traditional element in the space. The combination of the rich wood tone, soft cream color trim, and clean, bright glass windows and doors worked well to tie the old in with the new.

On opening day, many members of the congregation were impressed that Paragon 360 had somehow increased the actual size of the lobby. In reality, it was only the interior design changes which made the space seem so much bigger.

The new lobby worked beautifully to accentuate the traditional elements that the church valued, while also becoming modern and inviting. Paragon 360 was able to update the lobby, so that it better served First Baptist Muskogee’s congregation, encourage them to gather together, welcome each other, and feel comfortable in their familiar yet updated space.

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