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

  • Vale Church.
When Vale Church outgrew their existing facility and site, they purchased 35 acres of land on the southeast edge of Bloomington, Illinois, and consulted BLDD Architects to develop a 100,000-square foot masterplan for their new site.

Shortly after the master-planning process, BLDD began designing a 30,000-square foot Phase 1 building, which would allow the church to move to their new site. An efficient, user-friendly floor plan and the ability to easily expand in the future were key ideas behind the design of Phase 1.

Ultimately, a resourceful design allowed Vale Church to accommodate a larger congregation with 8,000 fewer total square feet. The design was also budget-friendly, without sacrificing any ministry capabilities, at $175 per square foot — approximately 30 percent below the industry average.

Working closely together, BLDD and design-builder PJ Hoerr, Inc., determined a pre-engineered metal building was the best construction type for this project, because it would align with the project budget and the ambitious 11-month construction schedule. The building, which is six pre-engineered metal buildings put together, includes a large central gathering space, café, a 700-seat worship space, nursery, four classrooms, a multipurpose room, and an office suite that contains a conference room, individual offices, work room, and open workstation area.

The form of the building, as well as the type and colors of building materials were intentional design decisions made to create a bright, clean, contemporary aesthetic that conveyed Vale’s image of itself as being a fun, welcoming, and different type of church. The roof and exterior walls are clad in white, gray, and copper insulated metal panels.

These panels not only help achieve the modern look the church desired, their speed of installation made it possible for the building to be weather tight only six months after breaking ground. Punched window openings bring natural light into the offices and classrooms. The large curtainwall at the main entry and north-facing clerestory window allow large amounts of soft natural light into the gathering space. And the “beacon” on the north face of the church features mullions in a cross configuration and backlit red glass that glows at night.

The interior features a simple but well-thought-out palette of materials that relate to the exterior and create a unified, cohesive design. Sealed concrete floors are used in the gathering space, worship space, and multipurpose room to create a durable surface that can withstand the large amounts of foot traffic, and moving of table and chairs. Carpet tile is used in the classrooms, office spaces, and worship space risers to define and identify spaces, provide acoustical relief, and provide softness and color. Wood and pops of bright paint colors are used to bring warmth into the spaces, and offset the exposed concrete and metal building structure. Together, these materials create an interior that is sophisticated and fun.

In addition to the cohesive use of interior materials, the sense of connection is heightened by the use of environmental graphics throughout the church. Members are welcomed by a message of “I am forgiven, loved, welcome, chosen” in the gathering space. Geometric shapes lead the eye through the space and create a sense of movement and direction throughout the building. Each Christian education classroom is unique with different, yet cohesive color palettes and themes for the respective age groups.

Phase 1 was completed and opened its doors in October 2018. The church continues to experience remarkable growth and is beginning to look at the next phase.

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