Print this page  
This article is from
Part of the PMI Publishing family:  Church Production  •  Church Designer

The Christ Connection

Elevation Church's Ballantyne campus in Charlotte, N.C., is designed to foster energetic interaction with others -- and with the message.

By Carolyn Heinze   •  October 30, 2017 11:40 am EDT

Tags: architectural design, avl design, broadcast, multisite church, new build, streaming, worship space,

[Editor's note: Find a detailed AVL Equipment Highlights list at the end of this story.]

Led by the charismatic Pastor Steven Furtick, Elevation Church takes a purposeful approach to creating the experience that attendees receive throughout its 15 locations in the United States and Canada. The church’s leadership made no exception for Elevation Ballantyne, a 75,000 square-foot facility on 22 acres of land in Charlotte, N.C.

Designed as Elevation’s global broadcast headquarters, the facility reaches Ballantyne attendees, those worshipping in the church’s other sites, and worshippers who connect with the church via its online video streams. LS3P Associates Ltd., headquartered in Charleston, S.C., oversaw architecture and design, master planning, as well as the coordination of teams charged with installing building systems and audio, video and lighting technology. Nathan Daniel, AIA, LEED AP, and project manager at LS3P, recounts that his firm has enjoyed a relationship with Elevation since 2009. As such, over the course of the last eight years, L3SP has been involved in build-outs of Elevation’s Blakeney, Lake Norman, Matthews, and University City campuses.

Intentional Intercommunication

“With all of these campuses––and with Ballantyne really being in the forefront––the concept of the sequence and flow and anticipation as [people] pull into the campus, park their vehicles, approach the building, and then the interaction and energy [they experience] within the space,” Daniel explains. “Everything is very well thought out [in terms of] connectivity in the building, from the lobby, to the children’s ministry, to the auditorium.”

Daniel points to the lobby, which visitors enter through a two-story vestibule that opens up into an open space, featuring a concrete monumental stair that serves as a seating area. An interactive LED wall that runs the height of one wall and wraps the ceiling pulls this large space together. “It fits Elevation very well [because] it’s constantly in motion,” he says. “There’s not a stagnant [feature] in that lobby, and that helps to create that energy and redefines what they’re doing as a ministry.”

The contemporary, simple finishes throughout the lobby, classrooms and children’s areas are designed to make visitors feel welcome without compromising the main reason they’re there––for the worship experience.

At 1,850 seats, the main auditorium isn’t exactly small, yet it maintains a connection between those on the platform and attendees thanks to a U-shaped seating area and the thrust of the stage. “Quite honestly, there’s really not a bad seat in the house; in each seat you feel very intimate with the worship team as well as Pastor Furtick,” Daniel says. He reports that while the room is monumental, “it feels much more intimate [than you think it would].”

SES Integration, headquartered in Concord, N.C., was charged with integrating all of the audio, video and lighting technology throughout the Ballantyne campus. This firm, too, has an ongoing relationship with Elevation, as has Trey Blair, director of SES Integration, both in his current position and when working with another company.

Blair notes that the biggest difference in Elevation Ballantyne’s AVL setup is how flexible it needed to be. “The system was intended to be able to change every week if they wanted it to,” he says. “If they wanted to do a completely different stage set and change how they’re doing their broadcast that week, [they had to be able to do it].” He says that the flexibility of how church technicians can move the broadcast signal around from location to location, from Ballantyne, “is just far beyond anything they’d done before.”

Flexibility in Action

All of the church’s campuses take a live video feed from Elevation Ballantyne, enabling the weekly sermon to be live streamed out to those venues on a closed network. (There are some feeds that are distributed over the Internet, but most are on a private network.) The other sites may also stream back to Ballantyne, and a multiviewer in Furtick’s office allows the pastor to keep up with what’s happening at the other locations.

Several locations are also connected via a matrix intercom (rather than a party line intercom system). Via network-based devices at these locations, technicians may communicate with the Ballantyne tech team as if they were in the same building. “They truly are all part of the same production––it’s one fluid production across all the sites,” Blair explains. “It’s not 15 churches running separately and happening to get the same sermon; they really are running together as one production.”

Back in the Ballantyne auditorium, the lighting system, which must accommodate live, on-location worship as well as the broadcast, is designed around riggable steel hung above the stage. “They’re able to hang truss and motors, and hang a different lighting rig any time they want,” Blair explains. Bulk connection points, both in the ceiling and the floor, enable operators to make connections for power and data. A patchable motor controller built by Applied Electronics gives church techs the ability to control all of the chain motors and patch them from different positions around the auditorium.

The audio system was designed in the same way, with multiple tie lines located throughout the building, all of which lead back to a patch bay in the stage rack that provides church operators with the capacity to patch pretty much anything, anywhere in the facility. (There are even audio tie lines around the lighting catwalk and the lighting positions in the back of the room, enabling the technical team to deploy surround sound without having to run special cabling.) The video system infrastructure is configured similarly, with SDI patching available throughout the building.

Designed Connection

Outdoors, L3SP worked to design a parking area and building entry points that would, once again, contribute to creating the Elevation experience from the moment visitors enter the property. “For somebody coming to the church––not being stuck in traffic, not being able to find a spot, walking too far to the front door––all of those were big items that we worked on with the church to make sure we were going to bring about the best experience,” Daniel explains. The design and placement of access points were strategic, as was the connection of interior and exterior elements: the children’s classrooms wrap the exterior of the building, providing young visitors with natural light during their activities. “We think it’s very important and they do, too, for kids to be able to have that connectivity to the outside.”

On a project level, the fact that L3SP and Elevation have worked together throughout the past eight years facilitates communication. Daniel acknowledges that as the two parties have gotten to know each other, they’ve developed a comfortable working rhythm. “We understand them, they understand us, and the expectations are set,” he says. “Whether it’s a master planning exercise, or looking at new sites, or looking at new ways to create flow or an experience within a building, they’re open to suggestions from us—and it really is an interesting process. It’s pretty seamless, to some extent. When you have that understanding of your client, it definitely has significant value.”


AVL Equipment Highlights:


Digico SD8 audio monitor mixing console

Digico SD10 audio mixing console

Evertz EMR MADI router

L-Acoustics K2 loudspeakers

L-Acoustics K1SB subwoofers

L-Acoustics KS28 subwoofers

L-Acoustics ARCS II speakers

L-Acoustics WiFo speakers

L-Acoustics X12 monitors

L-Acoustics X8 monitors

L-Acoustics LA12x controllers

L-Acoustics LA8 controllers

L-Acoustics LA4x controllers

Midas Pro 9 audio console (for web broadcast)

Shure PSM 1000 in-ear monitoring systems

Shure UHF-R wireless microphone systems

Sound Devices 970 redundant recorders

Yamaha QL1 audio monitoring consoles (master control room/video control room)

Whirlwind Custom 3-Way Transformer Isolated Splitter System

Bittree Patchbays


De Sisti LED Fresnels

ETC Sensor IQ relay panels

ETC Source Four LED Studio HD fixtures

MA Lighting GrandMA 2 lighting console

Martin MAC Quantum washes

Martin MAC 250 washes

Martin VDO Sceptron 10 one-meter LED fixtures

Philips Showline Bar 660 and 640 Luminaire LED batten fixtures

Philips Vari-Lite VL4000 spots

Philips Showline SL PAR 155 Zoom LED PARs

Light Source RGBW LED House Lights w/ custom RDM Profile

ETC Paradigm Architectural Lighting Control System


Absen A3 Pro tiles

Absen C7 tiles

Theattrix Gravity Coherent XVT Channel Truss

Evertz EQX video router (integrated with the EMR MADI router)

Evertz VIP Multiviewer

Evertz Redundant Magnum Servers

Panasonic AK- HC3500 studio cameras, four with Canon DigiSuper 22 xs lenses and two with HJ14ex4.3B IRSE HDxs lenses (for jib and overhead dolly)

Ross Acuity 3ME switcher

Panasonic LED Professional Displays

Winstead Control Room Furniture

Clear-Com Eclipse Matrix Intercom w/ Freespeak Wireless and IP interfaces


[Editor's note: This piece was originally published in May 2017.]

Copyright (c) 1999-2018 Production Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
For more information and reproduction guidelines please contact us at 919-325-0120 or (d1)