By: dgardner

Realizing Vision, Revamping Space

Expansion and renovation help a Washington church reach to the core of community ministry needs.
Designer Magazine
October 7, 2014
By Designer Staff

Image via BCRA

In August of 2010, a Washington state church realized its need for revamped ministry space. So Vancouver, Wash.’s Columbia Presbyterian Church staff contacted Merit Construction Northwest of Lakewood, Wash., through Arlington, Texas-based National Association of Church Design Builders (NACDB). The church needed direction on how to move forward with expansion and modifications and wanted a firm that could understand its mission and vision—and help guide them through the building process.

The church sought additional sanctuary space (they were already at three services), a larger gathering area, a fellowship hall, and a youth area. Merit and architectural firm BCRA of Tacoma, Wash., also an NACDB member, took the church through the “Visioning Process” to better understand the core needs essential to the ministry.

Starting fresh

After three years of design collaboration, budget reviews and a capital campaign, building began in July 2013. Construction included renovations to approximately 32,000 square feet of existing buildings that were built in the years of 1956, 1964 and 1985. The project also included 9,000 square feet of new addition and was carried out in three separate phases to allow use of the existing facilities during construction.

Phase 1 entailed renovations to the education wing during the summer, and when school resumed, detailed coordination was needed to ensure the safety of the students and visitors while construction continued. A close relationship was created with school administrators during the remainder of the project.

Merit Construction’s superintendent reportedly coordinated a number of construction learning opportunities for the students, welcomes by students and staff alike. The existing entry, sanctuary and downstairs fellowship hall was Phase 2, which included the demolition of portions of the existing structures. Northwest learned through the “Visioning Process” that the church wanted to preserve and respect its past heritage, so the existing sanctuary roof and altar wall were left in place.

Adaptive reuse of materials & space

The existing sanctuary roof columns were then cut off and two 80-foot steel I-beams were installed to permanently support the roof. After the beam installation was complete, the church provided a barbeque lunch for the construction crew to celebrate the milestone. The sanctuary was expanded on each side to create a much wider sanctuary and almost double the seating capacity.

Renovation upgrades include new electrical service, lighting and controls, insulation, windows, HVAC, kitchen equipment, elevator, fire protection, and AVL.

The expansion also enlarged the downstairs fellowship hall. A larger entry and gathering area were provided to allow church members a comfortable area to have fellowship before and after church services. Renovation upgrades include new electrical service, lighting and controls, insulation, windows, HVAC, kitchen equipment, elevator, fire protection, and AVL.

The sanctuary was expanded on either side to double seating capacity.

Phase 3 included renovation of a separate building to improve and expand the youth area, which was a high church priority; additional parking was added, as well. Construction challenges were amplified due to limited storage areas and building access, daily pre-school traffic, and an occupied building. Merit worked with local jurisdictions to allow Sunday services to be held in the existing gymnasium, and coordinated congregation tours to experience the unfinished areas during construction. In addition, Merit salvaged portions of the building columns and a sequoia tree to make into new furniture and an altar.

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