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A Masterplan Unfolds in Minnesota

A decades-long architect and client partnership, focused on designing for continuity and change, results in the realization of a well crafted masterplan at Wayzata Community Church in Minnesota.

By Church Designer Staff   •  April 11, 2017 10:13 am EDT

Tags: architectural design, collaboration, community connection, masterplanning, new build, renovation,

Architecture firm Rafferty Rafferty Tollefson Lindeke (RRTL) of St. Paul, Minn., worked with Wayzata Community Church (WCC) in Wayzata, Minn., for 27 years to implement a plan, allowing the church to grow from 52,300 square feet to 126,400 square feet. The congregation is now over a century old—and these past 27 years of planning, design, renovation, restoration and new construction tell a story of embracing social change and emerging community needs.

At the beginning of the design partnership in 1989, WCC wanted to expand but its original 1948 church was at its maximum square footage. In 1992, the design team created a Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the 7 acre hilltop site to more than double their total allowed square footage. One of the requirements of the PUD was for all future building expansions to be built in Georgian Revival style; the style of the original building designed by McEnary & Krafft; including red brick exterior and tall, multi-paned windows.

Phase I

The PUD design informed the three major design and construction phases that created the final seamless expansion of the church complex. The first phase, completed in 1994, expanded the religious N-S axis. The original sanctuary was transformed into a gathering hall that leads into the contemporary, daylight filled 700 seat sanctuary. The transept form of the sanctuary allowed for triple the seating while maintaining the same altar visibility as the original.

Phase II

The second phase, completed in 2002, formalized the expansive N-S axis of community support spaces. This axis begins with the chapel and ends with a multi-purpose gymnasium with various administration and educational spaces between. The perimeter of the inter-generational gymnasium space has windows to the exterior on the south and windows into the various classroom and music spaces on the remaining three sides.

Phase III

The third phase, completed in 2016, focused on providing simple, universal access to primary spaces, restoring the aging exterior and "raising the roof" to provide a modern youth space on the third floor. Key accessibility measures included a chapel expansion to support their Parables worship services focused on those with special needs and a welcoming drop off canopy, removing the stairs that impeded access at the sanctuary entrance.

This collection of incremental designs exemplifies how good stewardship can preserve and enhance valued places which foster sacred experiences and community gathering. The materials, massing, scale, and fenestration of the building offer a design continuity for the varied religious and community activities within. At each phase, the design team worked with WCC to develop flexible spaces to expand their community outreach while preserving valued historic building elements, such as the original chancel area and the landmark church spire. The Wayzata Community Church is a work-in-progress, demonstrating an enduring relationship between architect and client that has preserved traditions, embraced change, and enhanced the church’s ability to serve.

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