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

Since their inception in 1976, Woodcreek Church in Richardson, Texas, has always prioritized giving their children every opportunity to meet and know Jesus. With the continued growth of the church, classrooms were completely filled on Sundays and space was at a premium. Woodcreek’s recent “Raise Up” campaign sought to improve their facility, specifically for children and youth, in addition to providing amenities that could positively impact the surrounding community as a whole.

Woodcreek partnered with GFF Architects in 2015 to update their original master plan to support additional educational space and a 2,000 seat worship center, and then begin design of the first phase of this plan which was an expansion for their children’s ministry affectionately know as “Kidcreek.”

The 28,600-square foot facility completed in 2018 effectively triples their current space for children and youth ministries. The project contains a light and airy two-story family common area, children’s assembly and small group classrooms, an indoor play space with a large play tube structure, a gym/multi-purpose activity room, an additional large group assembly space, surrounded by classrooms on the second floor accessed from an open “bridge” centered in the commons.

Because of code restraints and existing conditions, the new building needed to be physically separated from the existing. GFF used this as an opportunity to provide outdoor spaces the church previously did not have: a family plaza overlooking a beautifully wooded creek area, and an internal personalized prayer garden between corridor connectors for quiet reflection and prayer. In addition to these spaces, the south lawn contains the outdoor playground and features a projection wall where the church hosts movie nights on the lawn.

Connections back to the existing building are designed for clear and well-defined access. The “dock” located along the front of the existing building connects the church’s primary lobby to the new family commons with dispersed kiosks for check-in to help alleviate congestion on busy Sunday mornings.

Two other walkways connect the family commons to existing preschool space. These walkways serve as the new main entrances for individual age groups with themed architecture for clear navigation, making drop-off and pickup easy and secure.

Themed zones based on age group (Nursery through fifth grade) were developed by Woodcreek in collaboration with Kendra McDougal Design Consultants. The church did not want a “cartooned” kids area that wouldn’t age well. GFF instead utilized playful colors and textural materials to reinforce each theme: The Dock, The Nest, The Cove, and The Bridge.

The dock is clad in shiplap with colorful portals highlighting the existing windows and wave-like acoustical panels in the ceiling. At the children’s entries angled wood slats are featured on one entry, while 3form resin panels with a rippled texture are featured on another.

Polished concrete flooring in the family commons provides ease of maintenance, while lively carpet and paint accents assist in wayfinding to the classrooms. The multipurpose room, known as the “Wildwood Activity Center,” fulfills a multitude of needs for the church, acting as a play space for children’s ministries complete with an Awana circle, a gym/game space for youth and young adults with basketball and volleyball courts, a large group meeting space, as well as overflow seating for worship services on Sundays and holidays.

The church wanted the building to identify itself as “Kidcreek,” while still feeling like a part of the existing facility. GFF utilized concrete tilt wall and storefront from the original building, while introducing subtle color around the windows, fascia elements and roof screens.

A playful arrangement of wood-look aluminum louvers protects the extruded glass box entry to the family commons from the harsh afternoon west sun and is illuminated at night, creating a playful entry welcoming kids to church.

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