Posted in practice on February 10, 2015 4:39 pm EST

Architects’ Roundtable: AEC Peers Report on Multisite Design

Church Designer magazine talks multisite design with church-focused architects and designers from around the country.











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TAGS: architectural design, avl design, business, design, multisite, outreach, sustainability,


By Keith Loria

A growing trend among churches has caused architects to reexamine some of their design ideas: the rise of the use of multisite spaces for worship—either with multiple buildings on the same campus or different campuses spread out among a town or major metropolitan area.

"Size (seating capacity; everything is proportional to seating count), property location and size, surrounding property, and local community context can all contribute to programming the design goals for the project."

—Aubrey Garrison III, President, LIVE Design Group, Birmingham, AL

The challenge for architects is to give each site its own identity, but at the same time stay true to the overall brand of the ministry. That could mean an element in the lobby that is familiar, consistency of graphics in the children’s ministry space, or even just the same sort of color scheme and design throughout.

Aubrey Garrison III, President, LIVE Design Group

Church Designer recently spoke with four church architects about how they design for multisite spaces and overcome the unique challenges that they represent. Designing for multisites is nothing new for Garrison and his company. Projects he has worked on include the Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Ala., (main campus, video venue/overflow “theatre” on campus, prototype satellite campus); the Venture Church, Hattiesburg, Miss., (video venue on main campus, first remote satellite campus); and Shoreline Church in Destin, Fla., (video/satellite church in a shopping center).

“Some churches, like Church of the Highlands, have developed a satellite campus prototype that has the same design image from campus to campus. Each of their campuses are approximately 1,000 seats and are located on large sites where the buildings can stand on their own and not be influenced by local context,” he says. “It also has a consistent interiors image and a standard AVL concept for the stage design that is basically the same for each campus.

Venture Church, with a multisite in Hattiesburg, Miss., took over the former Hunt Club nightclub and turned it into a community outreach arm. Images courtesy of LIVE Design Group.

However, they have a mixture of ‘free-standing’ satellite locations where they have constructed new buildings and ‘borrowed’ locations that are mostly in school gyms or auditoriums that are utilized for the church on Sundays only. In these cases, they have a standard stage/AVL package that is brought into the school on Sunday.”

Churches like Life Church in Oklahoma or North Point in Atlanta have campuses in non-contiguous states where geography and local architectural styles and images could play a greater role. According to Garrison, every church is different, with varying ministry goals and branding images, and his experience in working with churches that locate satellite campuses in retail space is that exterior design image is created unique for each location—but signage and church logos are consistent at all locations. “Size (seating capacity; everything is proportional to seating count), property location and size, surrounding property, and local community context can all contribute to programming the design goals for the project,” he says. “Certainly, signage and landscaping contribute to the overall image and can present a consistent image from campus to campus.”

One interesting aspect of remote video venues is the desire of churches to create a design that has greater design appeal than the home campus—since it [oftentimes] has to attract people to a venue where the message is presented by video. “Our experience with satellite locations involves churches that have a relatively ‘tight’ geographical footprint,” Garrison says. “Church of the Highlands’ satellite campuses are all within a two-hour drive of the home campus. Venture Church’s satellite campus is in the same city. As a result, geography does not enter into the design parameters.” For Haulk, his vision ultimately arises from the intersection of the story of the soil, the context, and the story of the people involved.  continued >>