A New Hope

When is the right time for a church to plan the revitalization of its facilities with a new look and an expanded program? Why not during a pandemic? Childress & Cunningham Architects is excited to be embarking on a journey of expansion and renewal for Hope Church in Mason, Ohio, providing our expertise in religious facility design and specialized construction delivery.

The most prominent aspect of this multi-phased project will be built first. By creating a new sanctuary “Gathering” space, the existing sanctuary floor area will be able to be used for other much-needed program spaces. The new Gathering space will comfortably seat 765 worshippers in a graceful bowl shape with unobstructed sight lines to the main stage. State-of-the-art lighting and audio systems will be integrated to offer greater levels of technical production, including large video screens at the front to augment the congregation’s experience.  Acoustics are addressed through the shape and size of the internal volume, with its angled surfaces, and built-in absorptive bass traps.

The design features four exposed structural Glu-lam trusses in a 45 foot high cathedral volume. Along with clerestories, decorative lights, and special lighting focus on the cross, these design features elevate the sacredness of the space for the worshipper experience. Windows feature automated blinds to enable the light and outwardly-focused Gathering to be transformed easily to an inwardly focused worship space.

Another highly visible addition to the street-facing side of the facility is a freestanding covered shelter with a grilling area and storage for various outdoor events. Steel columns wrapped with stone and stained cedar trim boards will join with an enclosed storage shed to support the exposed wood truss roof structure. The storage space will serve as a media wall for projection, and electrical service will support multimedia productions. The shelter integrates with a new built-in fire pit circle and connects to sidewalks that serve the outdoor play areas and indoor youth programs. A patio expands past the edges of the expansion shelter to allow an even larger gathering on a summer evening. Gracious gathering locations and paths are designed both to encourage special needs student participation and provide accessibility for those with disabilities.

After the completion of the new Gathering space, the floor space occupied by the existing sanctuary will be transformed into new assets for the church community. The existing Lobby will open up into a much larger multi-functional Commons space that leads towards the new Gathering. Within the existing Lobby, a new Welcome Desk greets visitors, and a new kitchenette supports food and coffee services.

The Commons makes full use of the existing high ceiling to create a dynamic and flowing hub, with large community classrooms stacked on the main level and new mezzanine level, and a stone fireplace anchoring one end. The mezzanine community class rooms on each side are connected by a bridge with glass railings, offering a unique experience of the re-imagined facility. Additional meeting rooms, restrooms, cry room, and a dedicated audio/visual control room for the Gathering fill out the flanks of the Commons, while table and chair storage enables its use as a banquet hall.

The final phase of Hope Church’s revitalization will be interior renovations to the existing classroom wing. This will include a new Welcome Center and Video Recording Studio, as well as renovations to the Youth program spaces on the main level. On the lower level, new accessible restrooms will be added along with updates to the Junior/Senior High and Special Needs areas. Special Needs areas will expand by 500% to handle this integrated ministry community outreach program.

Childress & Cunningham was brought in to complete the design work after the church parted company with a prior design/build firm. In addition, C|C is serving as the project’s Construction Manager.  As Construction Manager and Architect, Childress & Cunningham oversees competitive bidding to the construction trades, providing optimum cost efficiencies through direct sub-contractor bidding. Even during a rapidly changing construction environment, cost savings have been achieved at each step of project development, while achieving all project scope items originally envisioned by the client.