Posted in practice on May 17, 2016 10:49 am EDT

Eight Things Church Technical Leaders Wish Architects Knew

These practical, inside tips have the power to improve the way you interact with church clients -- and to determine how much of their business you'll get.

Aesthetics and technology compete less when the conversations happen early.











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TAGS: architectural design, avl design, business, collaboration, education,


By Cathy Hutchison

Did you know that despite the high degree of technology required by both liturgical and contemporary worship spaces, the people responsible for directing that technology are often left out of the early planning stages of a new project?

Wonder what they wish you knew? We asked production and technical directors from some of the most popular churches in the U.S. what they wished church designers knew about their world.

1. Connection is our main goal.

“Our pastors long to feel a connection with the people to whom they are communicating,” discloses Ryan Howell of Watermark Church with campuses in Dallas, Fort Worth and Plano, Texas.

“Architects and Designers should be aware, that though the line may sometimes be blurry, we are not simply hosting concerts each week. Our weekend services are much more than entertainment. Our end goal is to share the greatest hope we have, and to foster a sense of relationship between those in attendance and the person teaching. In Watermark’s larger spaces, we use audio, video and lighting as a means of closing the gap in distance, and allowing everyone in the room to see and hear. “

2. Sometimes there are people on your team who don’t “get” us.

“Production venues are rare for normal engineers and architects. In production, we constantly think through the logistics of doing anything—from how people move from one space to the other to how we need to wire/hang a fixture. What they believe to be minutia gets dismissed, then we end up with handicaps that can last as long as the building. This makes the regular presence of the technical director on the job site very important. We see things others simply won't—and hopefully we catch those items dismissed by others so they can be corrected before it is too late,” says Wyatt Johnston, tech arts director at Fellowship Bible Church, Topeka, Kan.

3. Engage us in the dialogue about fashion vs. function.

"The balance of function and fashion is a delicate, yet integral dance we cannot take lightly as one does not automatically overrule the other."

—Dave Pullin, Director of Technical Arts, Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, KS

“Over the multiple building projects and renovations I’ve been a part of, the more passionate topics of discussion seem to revolve around function and fashion and how those two priorities merge together. In our current building project, which will be our permanent sanctuary, audio clarity was of upmost importance. As such, we have two large main speaker arrays hanging in a location for optimal sound quality—which also happen to be in a prominent and visible location. The architects felt the audio system should be redesigned so the speakers were completely out of sight. The priority of fashion (visual aesthetics) was higher for the architects whereas the priority of Function (audio quality) was higher for the church. This produced several long, yet productive conversations about the quality of sound desired and possible scenarios to meet both priorities. In the end, it was a simple matter of us clearly communicating the priority for the church and the architects ultimately agreed. The balance of function and fashion is a delicate, yet integral dance we cannot take lightly as one does not automatically overrule the other,“ shares Dave Pullin, director of technical arts, Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan.

4. With production equipment, we need you to know the difference when it comes to VE.

“Architects do not argue with the necessity for well-planned AVL coordination. However, understanding the end-user perspective when the value engineering process begins is not something that is as easily grasped. It is not just the initial impression of the room that makes a difference, but also the coordinated transitions of audio, video and lighting systems that are crucial during a service. For instance, it may seem like a simple substitution to have one house light switched for another because the look of the fixture is similar, but the performance of the light cannot be overlooked. A house light that evenly dims from 0-100 is equally important to the look of the light. While aesthetics are key in developing a worship environment, function outweighs the ‘look’ because when the lights fade out it becomes all about functionality of the room,” points out Bill Gross, director of production arts, Savannah Christian Center, Savannah, Ga.  continued >>