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Solomon Awards 2019 – McLean Bible Church (Church Design – Youth and Children’s Spaces)

McLean Bible Church hired Visioneering Studios Architecture to help them reprogram and reimagine their children’s ministry spaces from Birth through High School. The first phase that was completed this year was for the Elementary and Middle School spaces of approximately 35,000 square feet. The project scope included: interior design; finish selection and documentation; project management; and environmental graphic design, fabrication, and installation. Early Childhood and Student Ministry spaces are anticipated to be completed in future phases, but the whole project was always about so much more than aesthetics.

The church has the answer for the one thing the world truly desires, which is diversity … for every tribe, every tongue, and every nation to be valued, celebrated, equal, and united under a common King. Only the Church has that answer, and it’s only through Jesus. At McLean Bible Church, they glorify God by making disciples and multiplying churches among all nations, beginning in greater Washington, D.C. They are not ultimately an English-speaking church with different language ministries, they are one community that tells the same message in different languages. They are the body of Christ, made up of people from over 106 different nations, cultures, and backgrounds that not only love each other, but are unified on the same mission together.

How is that possible? Jesus.

The gospel alone is the thread that weaves their multicultural church together. It’s what connects them and, more importantly, what propels them, to increased relevancy in our broken world.

McLean Bible Church’s Tysons’ campus is uniquely situated in Vienna, Virginia, just west of the nation’s capital. Visioneering partnered with the church beginning with our master planning process, which allowed us the opportunity to help them “unscramble” the egg, by planning the highest and best use of the spaces within their 300,000 square foot, single-building facility, which includes a 2,400-seat auditorium among many other ministry areas.

Part of the identified challenge was the lack of centralized and secure kids’ ministry space, so our focus for the first phase was reorganizing the children’s ministry area to create secure, safe, and fun kids’ environments. The second challenge was to understand and capture the unique DNA, culture, and vision of the church so that the design could celebrate and represent that culture and vision.

Given the proximity to Washington, D.C. and Dulles International Airport, McLean Bible Church is both a local and regional church with international reach. They have hosted presidents, international travelers, members of Congress, and are extremely culturally and ethnically diverse. The Visioneering team was able to work closely with the church team, including their creative and communication leaders, and we gained inspiration from this unique region and its great diversity, which became a cornerstone of our design approach.

We were all very clear from the start that we did not want to develop an overly thematic or stagnant character brand. We wanted to celebrate cultural diversity in a way that would be understandable for the kids walking the halls. We took an approach that coupled graphic design with illustration that included languages and places that represented the diversity of the church body. McLean Bible Church also enlisted members of the church to translate and copywrite the verses and phrases used. It was a truly collaborative experience.

With this design approach, we were able to capture the regional specificity, cultural diversity, and inclusivity that illustrates the vision and story of McLean Bible Church along with the greater global Church’s goal of sharing the gospel to all corners of the Earth. This project also demonstrated that an incredible experiential transformation can happen for an affordable price, with the use of strategic graphic design and smart color and material selections.

The result is evident in the new visuals on the walls, which are McLean Bible Church’s mission statement in English, Amharic, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, and Spanish. Why those languages?

They not only have those languages present in their church family locally, but they have also scattered people into countries in those regions to spread the hope that’s found in Jesus alone globally. May God continue to use their church to bring many people all over the world to know Him and shout, “Hallelujah,” a word that is translated the same in every language.

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