Posted in projects on February 2, 2016 11:38 am EST

Split Personality: A Case Study on Satellite Campus Design

A multi-site model and modern technology help a Lone Star State church invite an intimate worship experience.

Exterior of Valley Creek Church's Flower Mound, Texas, satellite campus. Image courtesy of Beck Group.











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TAGS: architecture, branding, case study, design, multisite, projects, worship space,


By Carolyn Heinze

It was the fall of 2010 when John Stickl assumed his role as lead pastor at Valley Creek Church in Flower Mound, Texas, and the church has enjoyed considerable growth ever since. So much so that Valley Creek’s main campus required an expansion to accommodate increased attendance and, at the same time, the church secured property in nearby Denton, about 15 miles north of Flower Mound, to launch the first in a planned series of campus locations.

"Color-changing LEDs [in the house], allow them to extend the color palette that they’re using on stage into the audience, so it’s seamless. There’s not this divide of the congregation and platform."

—Steve Reed, LEEP AP, Vice President & Senior Consultant, Idibri, Addison, TX

“There were times when Pastor John was preaching between four and five times every weekend, which was not sustainable for him,” explains Pastor Becca Reynolds, who is responsible for ministries and operations at Valley Creek. To address this, Valley Creek initially created a video venue in its Flower Mound campus, with the goal of launching an off-site campus—and thus, embarking on the church’s multisite strategy—in the near future.

Design Opportunities & Challenges

The new worship center doubled in size, now seating 1,500. One of the main design challenges was to create a space that was large enough to support Valley Creek’s continued growth while enabling Stickl to remain engaged with the church family—and for them to be able to connect with each other.

Valley Creek's newest worship space at the Flower Mound, Texas, campus. Image courtesy of Idibri.

“They wanted a very interactive room, one where people could engage with each other, vs. a presentation-style room,” recounts Tom Greenwood, principal at Beck. The resulting design features tiered seating on a wide wrap to create a sense of closeness. The platform design also contributes to this sense of intimacy: the thrust of the stage is 30 feet deep from the proscenium to the edge.

Valley Creek’s Flower Mound campus serves as the main capture and broadcast facility for its multisite service, presenting a set of what are sometimes opposing objectives: “live” attendees must be able to see everything properly, but the service also has to look good on camera. “In these cases, you don’t [usually] want a lot of movement on the platform,” Greenwood explains, “but Pastor Stickl’s style is to really move around a lot on the platform.” This required the design team to consider how the backdrop, video screens, as well as the platform, could work together to provide a consistent shot no matter how mobile Stickl may be.

Lobby, cafe, and kids' area. Image courtesy of Peter A. Calvin.

“One of the ideas that we floated out early on was to install a large central screen [as a backdrop] that could be used not only for reinforcing the message, but also for visual effect,” says Hoyt Hammer, lead principal at Beck. Instead, the resulting backdrop incorporates three separate screens. “What persuaded us to go in that direction was really that issue of being able to capture the pastor’s message for rebroadcast.”

Idibri, a technology, theatrical, and acoustical design firm based in Addison, Texas, provided theatre consulting and acoustical design for Flower Mound. The firm also designed the audio, video, and theatrical and architectural lighting systems. Steve Reed, LEEP AP, vice president and senior consultant at the firm, notes that the shape of the room is one of the things that dictates what video technology will work best in the room.

“In this particular space we used three screens so that from every angle, everyone can see the pastor, and see the image magnification. Those sightlines give people a sense of intimacy through video,” he says. “They can see a close-up of the pastor’s face and his facial expression, which helps them to feel closer to the pastor—you don’t feel like you’re really far away from him and what he’s communicating.”