Posted in projects on November 6, 2017 3:24 pm EST

Church Casual

Chase Oaks Church's Sloan Creek Campus in Fairview, Texas, rests in a natural setting that invites visitors to come as they are.

Image courtesy of Dan Schoedel, Idibri.











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TAGS: architectural design, avl design, church, community, multisite, sustainbility, worship space,


By Carolyn Heinze

Operating under the credo “Come as you are. Be transformed. Make a difference,” Chase Oaks Church is a growing organization that invites both longtime and new believers, as well as those exploring church for the first time. The environment is welcoming, diverse and focused on celebrating God. “Come as you are,” according to the church’s leadership, means just that: visitors needn’t concern themselves with dressing up, be it through the clothes they wear or how they present themselves to others.

When visitors enter the church’s front doors, they have a view through the commons area––a large lobby and gathering space––and, through a glass wall, they see directly into the woods.

While this message is largely delivered through its culture and branding, the church has also endeavored to represent this spirit through its architecture. Born out of Fellowship Bible North Church (which was founded by Dr. Gene Getz, who also founded Fellowship Bible Church and Fellowship Dallas) and led by Senior Pastor Jeff Jones, Chase Oaks, with its main Legacy Campus in Plano, Texas, is a multisite church that is enjoying considerable growth. Back in 2016, the church celebrated the opening of its Sloan Creek Campus, a video venue in Fairview, Texas.

Image courtesy of GFF Inc.

GFF Inc., a Dallas-based architectural firm, was behind the design of the worship center expansion at the Legacy campus, and the church reached out to the company to design Sloan Creek. Stephen Pickard, AIA, NCARB, and GFF principal, explains that for this location, Chase Oaks wanted to create a facility that had its own identity, but that was also connected to the main campus in Plano.

“They have a Chase Oaks brand, so they wanted to carry some of that onto the campus here, but they also wanted to redefine it and adjust it into a more casual setting,” Pickard relays. The design incorporates limestone benches––also featured at the Legacy campus––as well as materials like cedar and stone. Pickard concedes that the palette at Sloan Creek is more monochromatic than at Legacy, which features brighter colors. “We used similar materials, but we didn’t replicate them,” he says.

Image courtesy of GFF Inc.

Site Serendipity

The site itself offered the designers an irresistible opportunity: the rear of the property backs onto a wooded creek, and GFF took full advantage of by orienting the building along it. When visitors enter the church’s front doors, they have a view through the commons area––a large lobby and gathering space––and, through a glass wall, they see directly into the woods. “When we first started laying it out, [representatives from the Town of Fairview] felt like the church needed to be oriented to the street, and we felt like it needed to orient itself to the trees, which are perpendicular to the street,” Pickard explains. This means that the building’s façade is smaller and less exposed to street traffic, however GFF believed that this enhanced how visitors would feel indoors.

Image courtesy of GFF Inc.

“We felt like it was more important, relative to the experience inside the building, to have a strong orientation to the landscape and to the trees,” Pickard says. “We try to accomplish this on many projects––we don’t like it when you’re in the common area, for instance, and you’re looking at the parking lot.” In the public areas at Chase Oaks Sloan Creek, visitors have limited views of cars, and ample views of nature.

GFF’s design also aims to showcase the landscape from the moment visitors have parked their cars, notes Jacquelyn Block, associate at GFF, and new director of the firm’s Church Works Studio. As visitors move from their cars towards the entry, they pass through a park-like area, featuring a custom-built trellis and several limestone benches. “We really wanted people to go through this transition from the parking lot before they entered the building,” she says.

Image courtesy of Idibri.

The Nature of Technology

Idibri, an acoustical, technology, and theatre design firm headquartered in Addison, Texas, had also worked with Chase Oaks on its main sanctuary at the Legacy campus, and was called upon to provide designs for the acoustics, audio, video, and lighting systems. The company was also tasked with serving as a theatre consultant for the 500-seat, flat-floor worship space at Sloan Creek.

David Stephens, LEED AP, BD+C, senior consultant and vice president at Idibri, explains that as a video venue, Chase Oaks Sloan Creek is time-delayed in order to streamline the services. “It’s live, as it were, from the main campus, but they’re able to time shift it if they need to, based upon where their local [service] is at,” he describes. This way, the worship team doesn’t have to stop in the middle of a song, for example, when Jones goes live from the main campus. “They don’t have to worry about that, so it’s more coordinated,” he notes.

Image courtesy of Idibri.

The central components of the church’s AV system are three LED screens that display the broadcast from the Legacy campus. The center screen is motorized to facilitate the placement of musicians and members of the praise team. “We put in a line shaft so that we could physically raise and lower the center screen; it would be in an up position when folks walked in so that they could see the instruments, and then at the end of the [music program] it will lower down into the floor to become the virtual pastor screen,” Stephens recounts.

Pickard, who says that this was GFF’s first project involving LED screens (the firm has since done others), says that these displays tend to make the designer’s job easier. “When you have rear projection, you have to dedicate a fairly significant amount of square footage to the area behind the screens to place the projectors,” he says. If the project calls for front projection, there are often concerns about projector noise. “I think another attribute is that the LED screens create more options, because you can still see them in an environment that has natural light, or has the lights on. You’re not committed to [full] blackout or a dark space to be able to see what’s on the screen.”

Image courtesy of Idibri.

Architectural Specifics

Back outside, one standout element of GFF’s design is a covered breezeway that connects the commons with the student ministry space. Pickard relays that GFF borrowed this concept from the old “dog run” houses that separated the living quarters from the kitchen in Texas houses. “Our plan is very similar; we don’t have a kitchen on one side and the living space on the other, but we have the gathering space on one side and then we have the student ministry on the other. And we have a very nice covered breezeway in between the two that becomes a shared area––and extension of the commons area,” he says. All this, of course, with a great view of the woods.

Pickard highlights the volume of gathering space at Chase Oaks Sloan Creek, noting that GFF made an effort to connect the interior with the exterior with elements like the breezeway. “We’re very interested in how the church can connect with the neighborhood and the community, and the architecture allows that to happen more seamlessly,” he says, adding that this is becoming an important element in GFF’s approach to church design.

Image courtesy of Idibri.

“We’re trying to put more and more emphasis on what I call ‘family gathering spaces’ on the campus, both inside and out, and particularly outside. Traditionally you would see a playground that was adjacent to the children’s area, but it was a stand-alone element. And then you might have had a café that opened onto a patio, but there was no relationship between the two. We’re trying to create more integrated outdoor spaces––more of a shared environment. It’s part of an idea that I think is fairly consistent in the work we’re doing.”

The Project Team

Stephen Pickard, AIA, NCARB, Principal, GFF Inc.

Loren Boynton, Design/Visualization Leader

Jacquelyn Block, Associate, Director of Church Works Studio, GFF Inc.

Emily Mendez, Interior Designer, GFF Inc.

David Stephens, LEED AP, BD+C, Senior Consultant & VP, Idibri

AVL Equipment List


EAW QX Series Loudspeakers (Mains)

Innovox SL-2.1RH Speakers (Front Fills)

JBL ASB6128 Speakers (Flown Subwoofers)

APE Rigging


Lab.gruppen Amplification


Analog Way QVU150 Scalers

Apantac DAs and Converters

Apple iMAC and Mac Mini

Blackmagic ATEM 1M/E Production Switcher

Blackmagic Smart Video Hub 20x20 Router

LG and Sharp LED Display Monitors

Chief Display Mounts

Crestron Control System

Aesontech (Vanguard) P3.91 LED Boards

Panasonic AW-HE60H POV Camera


Jands Vista S1 Console

ETC Unison Echo Relay Panels

ETC Unison ERn2 w/Paradigm Architectural Control Proc and Station Power Modules

ETC Unison Heritage 5-button and 12-button / 7-fader Control Stations

ETC NET3 portable and rack mounted gateways

ETC 19 and 26-degree Source4 750w Fixtures

Strand 6 x 1.2kw Portable Dimmer Bars

K9 Bulldog Pro LED PARs


Clancy 1,400-lb capacity 2 lift line lineshaft with control button and e-stop panels (for lifting the center LED screen)





Learn more about the companies in this story:

Good Fulton and Farrell (GFF) Church Works Studio




Chase Oaks Sloan Creek



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