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Solomon Awards 2019 – Highland Park United Methodist Church (Church Design – Youth and Children’s Spaces)

Located in one of the most prominent districts of Dallas, Highland Park United Methodist Church recently unveiled the new Tolleson Family Activity Center. Due to the constrictive size of the site, building efficiency and layout was of highest importance, so a special Planned Development (PD) was designed for this specific site, with the help of HH Architects. This state-of-the-art three-story, 129,000-square foot building begins a new chapter for the church and scope of their ministry.

The Family Activity Center replaces an older facility located directly across from the street of Highland Park United Methodist Church’s main campus. The first level is dedicated to the church’s heartfelt ministry outreach to the Special Needs community and their families. The Special Needs areas are designed to be sensitive to specific requirements of the many different levels of Special Needs individuals, from group gatherings to sensory sensitive spaces, designed for individual use. These areas range from an ultramodern teaching kitchen to a sensory room, designed to help calm those individuals who become overwhelmed. This ministry is not only an outreach for the surrounding community, but for the entire Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex as well. The center will help connect these families to local and regional resources for those with disabilities.

The second floor is dedicated to the church’s growing youth ministry and was designed to accommodate all types of students, both introverted and extroverted. The space includes a creative arts center, arcade and tabletop games, study spaces, breakout small group rooms, and stunning communal gathering areas.

The church has seen a bigger influx of new students, because of their location and the new opportunities and activities this building allows. The Youth level is arranged and outfitted with “Youthful” and contemporary architecture without actual theming to not only meet the needs of the youth, but also of those who participate in weekly programs and events Highland Park United Methodist Church offers.

On the third floor, the building hosts a full-size competition gymnasium, a café, support spaces, and a multipurpose worship venue that is utilized by the Youth on Wednesdays and Sundays. This level is host to athletic and wellness programs the church offers through their Wellness Ministry to encourage others to love and care for their physical body, stay motivated, and build community.

Because of Highland Park’s in-demand location to Southern Methodist University and other top Dallas businesses, parking had long been an issue for the church staff and congregation. With the completion of the Tolleson Center, 130 new parking spaces were added, by way of an underground parking garage with protected entry for any visitors. The parking garage is now open to all members and visitors throughout the week, bringing in even more traffic for the church.

Through the creation and completion of the Tolleson Family Activity Center, there is now something for everyone – in one location.

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