Posted in news on March 30, 2016 12:38 pm EDT

North Carolina Church Prioritizes Youth With New Space

Triangle Community Church in Apex, N.C., chooses a flexible structural system to house youth fellowship and worship.

Image courtesy of Butler Manufacturing.











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TAGS: new build, structural system, sustainability, worship space, youth center,


By Church Designer Staff

In its early days Triangle Community Church in Apex, N.C., consisted of a few couples meeting in rented spaces to worship. Through the years attendance grew modestly and in 2002 the organization had enough members to warrant opening a new worship space of its own. In the years that followed, the number of new members accelerated rapidly, and the church quadrupled in size by 2015. Today, 1,300 people attend Triangle Community Church.

Planning for the future

From its humble beginnings more than 20 years ago, TCC has transformed into a massive nondenominational worship community, thanks in large part to the strategic approach church leaders have taken to foster its growth. For example, it’s no coincidence the church is located in North Carolina’s Research Triangle region; founder Doug Humphrey and Buddy Walters chose the area because it was home to a large number of unchurched baby boomers with children.

Today the area continues to grow — 40,000 new residents will move there by 2017 — and TCC has a strategy to continue to grow with the community.

At the heart of its growth plans is its youth ministry. This focus on the next generation stays true to TCC’s commitment to families with children. The burgeoning youth ministry provides a place for teens who were raised in the church to continue their faith journeys and an opportunity to introduce their friends to all the TCC community has to offer.

For the past seven years, TCC’s youth groups met in a triple-wide trailer. While the space worked well initially, youth attendance soon ballooned from about 40 students to close to 100 each service, and the trailers became too cramped to be effective for the group’s needs, which limited continued growth.

Prioritizing the teens

At that point church members decided to construct a new space for the youth ministry, officially named the Next Generation Discipleship Center. It was going to be a place big enough to accept new attendees, flexible enough to accommodate multiple needs and cool enough to attract teens who aren’t connected with a church.

Staying true to its method of operation, the TCC team, including Pastor to Students Lanier Ward, Volunteer Director of Construction Projects Bob Donalson and Director of Ministry Operations George Freebersyser, enlisted an outside partner to help them take a strategic approach when sculpting their vision for the new space. They also held focus groups with parents and the high school and middle school-aged students the new worship and ministry center would serve.

The result was a 16-page document that outlined teen and middle-schooler preferences for how they like to receive information and how they would use the space, including 24 design goals ranging from being an open and inviting space to having adequate storage and distinct areas for socializing, and even some thoughts on layout and aesthetics.

Long-standing partners

To bring its vision to life, TCC called on Bobbitt Design Build Inc., a design-build general contractors in the Carolinas with an extensive portfolio of religious facilities -- a Butler Builder for nearly 70 years.

" ... because of the way a Butler building is braced, we had more flexibility with window placement. With this approach, we were able to easily deliver a structure that draws in a great deal of natural light in a very economical way.”

—Michael Huslage, AIA, Project Architect

Bobbitt and TCC first worked together in 2002 on TCC’s 17,000-square-foot worship facility (also a Butler building featuring the Widespan structural system and MR-24 roof system). The two organizations then continued to collaborate closely over the years on future phase planning for the TCC campus.

Finding design flexibility

Throughout the planning phase, the project morphed several times as the builder and the customer worked to find an ideal fit for TCC’s budget and requirements. The original design called for an A-frame structure, but was updated to the current clerestory roof design. The change was reportedly made possible in part by the flexibility the Butler structural system offers.  continued >>