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Can You Fast-Track or Value-Engineer Creative Thinking?

Not successfully, our Church Designer sources and readers report. Projects turn out best when all relevant design experts are called in for input at the earliest stages of design.

By Carol Badaracco Padgett   •  March 24, 2017 3:00 pm EDT

Tags: acoustics, architectural design, avl design, business, collaboration, sustainability, worship,

The focus of Church Designer's March-April 2017 issue is multisite design. And much like a number of ideas and concepts we put the microscope on each issue of Church Designer, a common theme comes to the surface in the projects we cover and the interviews we conduct: Planning from the earliest stages of designand inclusion of the people with expertise in the various creative components of a space’s architectural design or renovationare critical. If these voices and ideas are shut out in the name of efficiency or power, solutions and systems usually fall on their faces and require a complete (and expensive) retooling long before their time. In other words, these projects are, at the best, less successful than they may have been, and at the worst, they fail.

Some examples of the areas in which our architect, engineer, consultant and integrator sources advise drawing in creative design professionals from the get-go include site selection, worship space design, all manner of acoustics, lighting, video and new projection technologies and, in this issue, design of churches’ multisites.

Just as you wouldn’t have an accountant call the shots on the creation and design of your worship space, you wouldn’t find success letting a church building committee dictate architectural design and building solutions. (And conversely, you wouldn’t have much luck running your business if you had architects and other designers handling the accounting and billing. Nightmare.) You would encourage your creative team members and specialists to draw together in “the earliest stages of design,” as our sources repeat like a broken record. And oftentimes like a broken record because building owners and church leaders seem to try it over and over again: have someone on the team, with no design education and experience, who’ll bull-doze a project to the timeliest solution, call the shots to the grave detriment of the project. You tell me over and over, this simply doesn’t result in the enduring, beautiful and functional community landmark that would’ve served a church and its community well for years to come, saving untold dollars and wheel-spinning in the long run.

Speaking of landmarks, see the story of the design of the North Shore multisite campus of Chicago-area Willow Creek Community Church on p. 16 of Church Designer's March-April 2017 issue, soon to hit mailboxes. If ever a project shone as an example of drawing in the best creative, solution-oriented minds, it’s this project. Earlier this week I spoke with a veteran architect in the Southwest with more than 60 years of experience designing churches, including some of the most successful megachurches across the nation, and he concurred: having the minds and voices of creative independent players involved in the design of the final product from the get-go gives the church the results they are looking for in their building process.

That, as well as the thousands of design professionals before who have told me this, is proof enough.

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