Posted in education on October 1, 2016 12:52 pm EDT

Five Key Areas Where Church End-Users Are Looking to AECs for Guidance

DIY church design and worship space projects rarely end in success. Here are some key points why your clients should -- and most times, will -- turn to you for expertise, planning and execution.











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TAGS: acoustics, architectural design, business, security system design, worship space design,


By Ken DeLoria

1. General Consultation

In this time of on-line information available for almost any product known to man, church staff and its technical team are not generally seeking product recommendations as commonly as they once were. Each member has favorite brands and models of gear, whether it’s lighting, audio, video, or other. So why hire a consultant?

There are many good reasons, especially if the upgrade or new construction is of significant magnitude. The consulting engineer can use his/her experience to streamline the process of specifying and installing a complicated, integrated system, while still letting the audio/video/lighting operators exercise their preference in gear, such as lighting and sound consoles, microphones, lamps, screens, etc. And where the design work would take a very dedicated individual likely many weeks to brainstorm and complete, the consultant can pull from previous projects of a similar layout and have preliminary drawings to the church leaders in a short time span.

2. Acoustics

When it comes to acoustics and acoustical engineering, these areas of specialty almost always go beyond the knowledge of the average church production member. If one has worked in a few churches, maybe as many as a dozen, they will certainly be cognizant of the different sound qualities of a glass-walled building and one with thick drapes everywhere. But that does not make them an acoustical engineer.

Very few audio engineers who work in production would want to tame – and take the blame – for solving the acoustical beast.

Acoustics can be tricky and expensive. But often the problem that needs to be solved for intelligibility and a pleasing sound quality can ONLY be solved by acoustical work. This is where a consultant really shines. A seasoned consultant will have experience from many, many projects, and will be able to accurately assess the needs of the church. Very few audio engineers who work in production would want to tame – and take the blame – for solving the acoustical beast.

3. Integration

Next, there’s integration. Tying several (or more) buildings together with bi-directional communication is no small task. It’s one thing to run a coax cable across the parking lot for audio/video in a second location, which is often done. It’s an entirely different matter to create an infrastructure for multiple locations that permits remote interviews, remote tape rolls, and the many other factors that contribute to professional appearance and results. The modern, large church bears much in common with a television production studio. Consulting engineers are named over and over as a valuable ally. The complexity of the thought process alone, to ensure that all needs presently are covered, as well as providing for expandability, is enough to put off most production people. The preliminary drawings would take much valuable time, whereas the consultant will have many fractional and full drawings to supercharge the process.

4. Ground-Up Construction

In the field of original architecture, or significant remodeling, it’s vital to find the right architectural team that will share the churches’ vision it holds for new construction. The cost of getting it wrong, trying to fix or change after construction is complete, is not something one wants to encounter.

Many think a good architectural firm will handle it all – but few can. And look for a prominent architect’s ego! What you want is a firm that will work with, and respect, all the other team members. But it doesn’t stop there. An experienced and dedicated Construction Manager (CM, a specialized type of consultant) is critical to a proper outcome. He/she should either be close by, or live on the property during the week in a trailer, because the hours can be brutal. And, of course, the choice of contractor is critical, as well. But here the CM can guide church staff in it choices. Remember, low bids are low for a reason; those that give them almost always find a way to make it up with petty change orders and other methods.

5. Security

The many horrific and senseless church shootings have triggered the need among all sized churches to respond. The media focuses on the larger events but there are many small ones, as well. Believe it or not, there’s actually a National Church Shooting Database that recorded a total of 139 shootings in churches between 1980 and 2005. In all, 185 people died, including 36 children. A very sad footnote on our society.

“In some ways, churches may be especially tempting to shooters,” writes Francie Diep, reporting on the database. “They are typically light on security. Many people come to them at once, at predictable times. And for those who are motivated by hatred of people of a certain color or creed, they also have that crucial symbolic heft.”

The issue of security is likely to be very hands-off by congregants, and it should be. Only a professional security consultant should select camera positions, the location of a command center and how to use it, and the numerous other elements, large and small, that make up a solid security system. Such things as screen pop-ups on a concealed podium video screen, as well as on audio, lighting and video control consoles, if a threat is detected, go back to integration—and are no small task. The security company must be willing to work with the churches’ IT people.

And if the situation is of greater magnitude, a security consultant can train a select group of congregants, perhaps those with military or police backgrounds, to stand watch just as the secret service does to protect our President and other dignitaries. Only a security consultant of impeccable reputation should be brought in. Remember, they will have access themselves to your security system, if they design it.



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