St Andrew United Methodist Church
St. Andrew United Methodist Church partnered with GFF Architects to develop a master plan for their next 30 years of growth on their scenic 21-acre property in Plano, Texas. Their top priority was to provide a larger space for their rapidly growing contemporary worship service which launched in 2012.
Their 20,500 square foot traditional Sanctuary was built in 2001, designed primarily for organ, choir and orchestral music, and seats a maximum of 1,800 people. GFF collaborated with theater consultant and technology design firm, Idibri, to re-imagine the current Sanctuary to house both traditional and contemporary worship styles. St. Andrew tasked the team with designing the architectural and AVL improvements to accommodate contemporary worship to do so in a way that was invisible to traditional worshipers.
The more visible architectural design changes included removing the porcelain tile flooring and replacing it with wood for warmth, extending the platform further into the room for a more intimate feel, expanding the AVL control booth, and replacing the side projection screens with LED. The contemporary worship equipment needed to be incorporated as sensitively as possible and the design team pushed the limits of available technology. In addition to the main design challenges, St. Andrew also wanted to have the flexibility to transform the room in 30 minutes between the traditional and contemporary worship service times. As a result, the design solution for the LED center screen found inspiration from touring concerts. A new 22’ x 40’ LED center screen made up of smaller individual panels was designed to be constructed between the services by church volunteers in less than 30 minutes.
For the space to be acoustically conducive to contemporary worship, the reflective surfaces in the room which optimize traditional worship are temporarily modified. Sixty-six retractable electronically operated, acoustic banners were seamlessly added to the space; 26 in the attic above the main ceiling with the remainder recessed into pockets in the lower balcony ceilings.
All the existing lighting fixtures were retrofitted in place to color changing LED giving a wide range of scene possibilities for the room. Speakers and sub-woofers were recessed into the expanded platform panels and concealed by millwork matching the adjacent walls. New line array speakers were delicately suspended from the ceiling at the front of the room. Projectors were hidden above the ceiling to allow image projection on the balcony fronts. The audio system was completely replaced with the necessary infrastructure to serve both the contemporary worship service and enhance the traditional worship service.
The design succeeded in meeting St. Andrew’s goals; dramatically transforming the room in less than 30 minutes and sensitively integrating the renovations while complementing the existing architecture. St. Andrew’s contemporary service has already seen rapid growth and they are excited for the way this project has energized their congregation to re-imagine their next 30 years.
Photo Credit: Dan Schoedel