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DesignWorship

2017 Solomon Award: Best Church Building Design

October 12, 2017 — by Gino Beltran

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We’re honored to receive the 2017 Solomon Award in Best Traditional and Contemporary Church Building Design on Crosspointe Church in Cary, North Carolina.

Solomon Award Crosspointe Church

Nearly 100 years ago, churches were rarely just a Sunday house of worship – they were known for building hospitals, schools, universities, community centers and more that served their surrounding neighborhoods. At Visioneering, we’ve been honored to partner with many churches over the years who desire to bring some of that history back into the present with multi-purpose facilities that serve the community beyond their four walls. When we first heard that Crosspointe Church in Cary, North Carolina was looking for community solutions rather than just a building, we couldn’t wait to come alongside.

In the “triangle” area of North Carolina between Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, population was soaring – and with it, a surge of issues among local youth. More teenagers were getting into trouble, and more children were becoming obese at an alarming rate. The leadership at Crosspointe wanted to provide positive resources for local youth but knew they wouldn’t be as effective on their own. So, they began to develop partnerships with other organizations in the area, including the YMCA.

The location of Crosspointe would also be a key advantage in engaging people in the area. Sitting at the trail head that leads down to Jordan Lake, Crosspointe’s site was a destination for anyone walking, hiking, or biking up the trail from the lake. We began to dream together – what if those people could join a Zumba or Crossfit class when they got to the church? What if youth found afterschool programs that were actually worth the walk?

In order to provide a seven-day-a-week experience for the community, we re-designed Crosspointe’s existing spaces and expanded with reuse and activity in mind. There is a full kitchen that will be leased out by a local baker, a coffee house open daily, trails, and recreational areas throughout the campus for physical activities. Even the lobby itself was designed to house everything from exercise classes to MOPS groups. And of course, the 650-seat gymnasium that houses Sunday worship can now additionally be used for events throughout the community.

Solomon Award Crosspointe Church

The next step in completing Crosspointe’s updated facilities was to add additional space that would house a YMCA. The YMCA, open for membership, provides another 1,400 seats for Crosspointe’s services. The gym doubles as a worship center, complete with projection scoreboards that can turn on and off, and thus transform the room. The YMCA also uses Crosspointe’s nursery and Pre-Kindergarten rooms for their daycare services, thus greatly reducing the amount of square footage that would have been required with two separate building projects.

That’s not the only thing unique about the YMCA addition on Crosspointe’s campus. Thanks to the creative mind behind Crosspointe’s Administrative Pastor, TJ Terry, we were able to take the trees we harvested from the expansion site and use them as building materials on the YMCA – carrying the theme of reuse throughout both the old and new buildings. At Visioneering, we embrace every opportunity to redefine the culture around us to a movement of repurposing, and we were thrilled to partner with a leadership team that values the same responsible design.

Solomon Award Crosspointe Church

When you step foot onto Crosspointe’s new campus, the lofted ceilings and natural design elements invite you to take a deep breath and feel the endorphins – as though exercising in the fresh air. From the open concrete floors meant to withstand a lot of activity, to the hanging ropes used as seating area dividers, reflections of nature brought inside can be found throughout the buildings’ materials.

As part of our ministry at Visioneering, we feel called to do everything we can to help our church partners answer the tough questions that come along with building, and move forward with clarity and confidence towards greater Kingdom-impact. With Crosspointe, we focused on three main ideas:

1) Story – Who is their community, and what are they passionate about?

2) Soil – What is unique about their city and region?

And, 3) Stewardship – What are the next steps we can take towards their goals without exhausting their ministry budgets?

Crosspointe Church in Cary, North Carolina is a beautiful example of churches being for their
communities again, every day of the week.

DesignWorship

Casino Church (Wait, What?)

September 11, 2017 — by Jody Forehand

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On my way out of Phoenix, AZ into San Diego, CA on Wednesday evening, I looked out the window of my American Airlines Airbus 321 and saw a site that looked like a big mega-church. I wondered if it was possibly a project by Visioneering Studios, since we design and build churches across the country. As we cruised by at several hundred miles per hour, I snapped a couple of pictures out the window, hoping to research the site after I got to the hotel in San Diego.

The site was a bit remote, not unlike a lot of other suburban megachurches that often have to go to the outskirts of larger cities to find enough acreage to house their campuses. This building site was right off the main highway for easy access and great visibility (another trait churches look for in selecting a site). It was surrounded by undeveloped desert scrub brush and not much else, but residential rooftops were nearby. Growing churches often seek to get out in front of the suburban expansion coming their way that will one day put them right in the middle of the community. This site had huge parking areas and the design of the building included a covered drop-off, a cylindrical tower “entry” element, and an interesting and creative layout that was reminiscent of churches we’ve designed at Visioneering Studios.

While I was too far away and passing by too fast to see any facade details or logos, I was quite certain it was a church, and I was interested to find out which one it was and if we had designed it. Later that evening, I got to my hotel room and popped open my MacBook. I was able to trace my flight path and find the “mystery” church site. As I scrolled the map east from the airport and zoomed in on the site to find out the name of the church, another name popped up instead… Casino Arizona!

casino

Wow. That was not what I was expecting at all. I was surprised, but shrugged it off and quickly forgot about it as I tried to get to sleep. The next day passed, full of great meetings with a multi-site church about changes to some of their campuses, and then it was time to head home. Leaving San Diego this morning, I connected in Phoenix again, and as the Boeing 757 raced skyward toward Charlotte, I noticed that we were backtracking along the same route I flew in on a couple days prior. I now saw the casino out the window again. This time, I already knew what it was and that’s when I had an unexpected and troubling question pop into my head: What does it say about the churches we work with, and the designs we create, that they can be confused with a casino?

Woah! My initial reaction was negative and surprising, even to myself. I thought, “Have church facilities become ‘secularized’ to the point that they look like ‘sinful’ casinos?” That’s a charge often hurled at mega-churches by smaller, more traditional churches and individuals who look condescendingly at the broad-brush caricature that culture has painted of megachurches and their “excess.”

Having worked with churches for 15 years, I’ve learned that there will always be some bad apples out there that people can point to that fit that mega-church caricature. It’s sad that this is true, but for every bad apple I have seen or heard about, there are hundreds of others that are fulfilling the Great Commission, connecting with their communities, and sending people and resources to the ends of the earth, serving the hopeless and helpless.

I’m not one who tries to over-spiritualize every event in my life, and I don’t audibly hear the voice of God speak to me. I often wish I did. But those who hear that still, small voice are often the ones who have changed the world in the most incredible ways through sacrificing their own personal comfort and ending up in places I never even knew existed.

As the plane accelerated upward and eastward leaving the casino behind, inside I felt what may have been the prompting of the Holy Spirit as another emotion and another question suddenly bubbled up. Maybe it was because on my flights this week I brought along Mark Batterson’s new book, “Whisper,” which is about learning to be still and listen for God’s voice in your life, but the new emotion I felt was joy. The new question I asked myself was, “If a casino, whose sole purpose is to take your earthly treasures from you, can use creative architectural design to develop a place people want to go to, why can’t a church ‘redeem’ this type of engaging design and use it as ‘architectural evangelism’?” Externally focused, life-giving churches will use whatever means and methods are necessary, short of sin, to reach others for Christ because they understand and fully embrace the eternal consequences that are at stake.

I long ago realized that arguments between believers about things like pipe organs vs. electric guitars and pews vs. theater seats are all spiritually-neutral, personal preferences. Jesus never sang from a hymnal while wearing a suit and tie and sitting in a pew, as light filtered through the stained-glass windows and someone played “Amazing Grace” on the organ. He also never sang a Chris Tomlin song from words on a screen while wearing shorts and a t-shirt, sitting in a theater seat sipping a latte while haze and moving lights created the ambiance for the shredding, electric guitar solo. Neither method changes the eternal truth of the gospel message, so as long as that truth is being preached and lived out by that church, the rest is just following Paul’s example.

We’re all moved to worship, and drawn to a deeper relationship with Christ in various ways, which is why I believe that Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 that he would “become all things to all people so that in all ways he might save some” is still applicable to these discussions about personal preferences today.

So now I don’t feel bad that I mistook a casino for one of our church projects. I know that this style of facility has been used in amazing ways across the country to reach millions for Christ, and I’m glad to have played some small part in that through my work at Visioneering. I also know that this style of building is not for everyone, and not for all time. Things change. Large mega-campuses may never completely go away, but there’s been a trend in the church market away from these over the last few years toward smaller, community-based, multi-site locations. If I were to fly over one of these smaller church projects we’ve designed, I may mistake it for a great restaurant, or retail shop, or public park, or I may not be able to distinguish it at all, and that’s okay. As long as we are designing churches as engaging spaces that are outward-focused and serve others while reflecting the beauty and creativity of our Creator, I’m good with whatever form that takes.

BuildDesignEnvisionWorship

Behind the Build: The Father’s House

April 19, 2017 — by Gino Beltran

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Location: Vacaville, CA
Divisions: Envision, Design, Build
Services: Master Planning, Architecture, Interior Design, Construction

the father's house

In January of 2016, The Father’s House in Northern California celebrated the Grand Opening of Phase 1 of our partnership, which included a brand new auditorium and children’s building. Over the last 19 years, this powerful community has grown from just a few people in a living room to now three campuses, including Napa, East Bay, and the newest — Vacaville.

Pastor Dave Patterson had a vision for the Vacaville location to take people on a mindful journey of God’s presence, no matter where they went on campus. “When we started this project, we had a verse in Exodus 33 that says, ‘God don’t lead us up from here without Your presence.’ Visioneering took that verse from Exodus and created a storyboard that took us from the Wilderness, right into the Promised Land, through the Red Sea with a Cloud of Glory — all of which was represented architecturally. It was quite enjoyable watching that process come to fruition.”

From the flaming “Pillars of Light” to the Children’s Ministry area called “The Passage,” every detail incorporated into the design and architecture of The Father’s House helps tell the story of God leading His people out of Egypt from a life of slavery to a life of freedom. It’s Pastor Dave’s desire that every person stepping on campus would feel the same hope of God’s chosen people in that story of Exodus.

Additionally, for the first time ever in TFH’s 19-year history they have a campus that’s publicly exposed — allowing them not only to thrive and grow in the area, but further their vision of reaching more people who are far from God.

“Since we’ve been in this new auditorium, we’ve seen close to 1,000 people added to this location. We’ve had people come who have never attended church, and we’ve been able to do some nights of worship and events at a brand new level.”

At Visioneering, we can’t wait to continue our partnership with Pastor Dave’s team into Phase 2 of the Vacaville campus, and keep revealing the God-story their community has to offer. Take a further look below Behind the Build of The Father’s House:

 

Worship

4 Rules to Curating An Intuitive Guest Experience

February 24, 2017 — by Dave Milam

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Even if your church building may need a complete overhaul, here are 4 ways you can begin to curate a better guest experience now.

What would it look like if this coming Sunday morning, your church’s entire Guest Services Ministry Team didn’t show? Imagine no neon-vested minions directing traffic or overcaffeinated greeters guiding guests. I wonder if the scene might border on apocalyptic, with panicked pastors pacing the hallways, pandemonium in the parking lot and zombie-eyed parents with kids in tow left to fend for themselves?

 

What if you were forced to rely solely upon your facility’s design to guide each guest?

 

Think about it: could every visitor flawlessly navigate an entire Sunday morning experience intuitively or would the self-guided experience result in a blundered debacle? And what happens to those people, often first-timers, who want to navigate your building on their own and manage to skillfully evade your welcome team each week? You know it happens.

 

Here’s the cold hard truth: if newcomers are unable to intuitively navigate your facility, it indicates you’ve got a huge design problem on your hands. Because good design always makes usability more intuitive. And intuitive environments empower great guest experiences.

 

Often, churches use their guest services ministry as a duct tape to patch the holes of defective design. It’s true– your building may need a complete overhaul. But maybe you could begin to curate a better guest experience now by making your building a little more intuitive.

 

Here are four of the most basic rules to curating a more intuitive guest experience:
1. Point the Way

Thoughtful “way-finding” and quality signage is absolutely the best way to curate a more intuitive experience. Clear and strategic directional signs that guide and move people through ministry environments will empower guests to take control of their own spiritual experience from day one.

Guest Experience
Eastside Christian Church – Anaheim, CA

Keep in mind that “way-finding” doesn’t always demand a huge ugly directional sign mounted to the wall. Sometimes, the best label is a strong branded space that intuitively directs your guests. For example, your main entry door should be unmistakable – no sign required. Four-year-olds should intuitively know where they belong and be naturally drawn to your kids’ environment.

Guest Experience
Eastside Christian Church – Anaheim, CA

 

2. Simplify The Options

Some of the best apps on your phone only contain 2-4 buttons on your screen at a time. The app may organize the library of a billion songs, yet there are still only 2-4 choices available. Simplicity is what makes complexity usable.

 

The parking lot is a great place to begin thinking about simplifying the user’s options. Add a dozen orange cones to reduce a driver’s turn choices and forge a unified traffic flow (and for the record, the need of traffic cones could indicates poor parking design).

Guest Experience
Calvary Baptist Church – St College, PA

 

3. Develop Ministry Districts

Another way to simplify complexity is to consolidate what you have. Think about it, grocery stores group all of the dairy, meat and bread into their own individual districts. It’s what makes finding hamburger so intuitive. Home improvement stores have both plumbing and painting districts. It’s even likely that your socks and jeans don’t live in the same dresser drawer but have their own “districts.”

 

If you want to make your building more intuitive, then your ministries should also be grouped into similar districts throughout your building. For example, children should all be together in their own secure district that is visually differentiated from all the other parts of the building. Additionally, there should be a youth district, worship district, admin district and connecting space.

Guest Experience
Calvary Baptist Church – St College, PA
4. Favor Clarity Over Creativity

Guests crave simplicity and clarity. So, for heaven’s sake, make sure the names of your environments actually describe what they are. As a guest, I just want to know where the coffee is and where to drop off my kids. So when you use the greek word for “coffee” to name coffee corner or some creative nonsensical jib jab to brand your kids check-in, it’s not helpful (even though it may be super creative).

Guest Experience
Bayside Church – Roseville, CA

Know where to get creative and where to use common sense design patterns. And when it comes to creating intuitive spaces, always favor clarity over creativity.

BuildDesignEnvision

Does the 80% Rule Still Apply?

November 9, 2013 — by Tim Cool

It is my opinion that if you utilize the above 2 methods to manage your worship seating, you can exceed to the 80% rule to 85-90%…maybe more. You may ask why this is important me (and to you). Here is why…it goes back to stewardship… financial and facility stewardship. If we can maximize the space God has already entrusted to us before we venture into a another building initiative, we are being better stewards of our current spaces as well as the money entrusted to us. I like the sound of that.

BuildDesignEnvision

Lowering The Drawbridge

November 1, 2013 — by Tim Cool

What might be a better approach, would be to figure out how, in your context and community, to lower the drawbridge and invite the community onto your campus. What things could you do physically, visually, pragmatically, relationally, outreach, etc that would lower the drawbridge and invite people to do life with you.

BuildDesignEnvision

5 Lease Negotiating Tips for Churches

October 18, 2013 — by Tim Cool

As the multisite and church planting movements continue to become the fastest form of multiplication and community impact, an increasing number of churches are looking to facilities they would lease rather than own. Given this trend, I thought it would be good to offer some insights and tips on negotiating a lease.