2015 Solomon Awards

Design & Construction

Body of Work with Churches

At GFF Architects, we have a studio of dedicated design professionals whose focus is exclusively on the planning and design of churches. We are very familiar with current trends and the most progressive thinking as it relates to Worship spaces, Children’s Education spaces and meaningful venues for Community Connection.


WFM Staff  ·  October 5, 2015

Passion for Church Design At GFF Architects, we have a dedicated studio of design professionals whose focus is exclusively on the planning and design of churches. We are very familiar with current trends and the most progressive thinking as it relates to Worship spaces, Children’s Education spaces and meaningful venues for Community Connection. We believe that Worship venue design will continue to trend toward supporting immersive worship experiences that, in many cases, are heavily dependent on relatively sophisticated Audio and Video systems.

There will continue to be emphasis on cutting edge Children’s education spaces and large Community gathering spaces and that seek to integrate church campuses into the surrounding community. In addition, we assist churches in developing environmentally sustainable design solutions that promote energy efficiency and cost savings for the church.  Stylistically, we believe that many churches are favoring a more ‘authentic’ representation of who they are. The modern church is not cloistered and mysterious, it is open and accessible.

A building’s transparency can reveal interior spaces that become a visible extension of, and connected to, the community that surrounds the church. Elaborate detailing and expensive materials have given way to more creative uses of inexpensive materials that are durable and easily maintained. Raw concrete is celebrated not concealed, structural elements are exposed and paints and stains have become the interior finish of choice. Cost effective construction techniques, like the use of tilt-wall concrete, allow for high quality construction at budget prices.

We believe parking solutions should seek options for ‘shared’ scenarios, which can reduce the extravagant (and expensive) amount of paving that surrounds (and disconnects) most large church campuses, freeing up budget dollars that can be applied toward landscaping and creating more meaningful outdoor environments.  We believe that buildings are simply a tool that can help a church to support and shape their ministries. Our extensive experience in the planning and design of churches is reflected in our ability to develop creative cost effective solutions that may assist a church’s ministries in becoming more relevant in today’s world. Our portfolio of work includes a variety of worship spaces that support traditional and alternative worship styles, exciting environments for children, and compelling spaces for community gathering and connection. 

Body of Work with Churches

Project Size: 801-2000 seats
Completion Date: August 28, 2015
www.gff.com/projects/church-works-studio

Our most successful master plans and building designs result from a creative design process that promotes exploration and discovery, and from collaborative relationships with an open exchange of ideas with our church clients. We strive for each building to be reflective of our clients’ priorities and exhibit a respect for each site’s unique context. Ultimately, our goal is the creation of buildings which are artful, sustainable, authentic and crafted to endure such that their value builds over time.  The finished product of our designs doesn’t selfishly express our design philosophy, or result in a recognizable GFF style, but rather, the designs express our clients’ priorities and values.

Our design work is underpinned by a methodology which stresses asking probing questions and listening carefully to our clients’ goals, objectives, needs and wants. We call this part of the design process “Project Definition.” It is a workshop-based process in which we explore precedents, benchmarks and standards while collecting quantitative data resulting in a very useful program to inspire the design.  A second key element of GFF’s design methodology is “Alternatives Analysis.”  We never bring a single anointed design solution early in the process, but rather allow several alternative concepts to be presented, together with an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each. These are ranked and presented to our client with a recommendation. Inevitably, the concept which moves forward has characteristics drawn from several of the alternatives, and the building is better off for it.  Despite the emphasis on a client-centered design methodology, GFF Architects subscribes to a series of tenets which inform our buildings and bring a measure of consistency to our work:  Design for our time Our buildings should take advantage of all the technology that is available to us, and they should reflect our particular place in time. They should be modern with a small “m.”  Design for our context We are a very active firm regionally.

The hot climate and bright sun should have a significant influence on the form and materials of our buildings. The surroundings of our site should inform a building’s orientation, massing, scale and color.  Learn from history. Don’t repeat it. There are wonderful vernacular building traditions in our area. These often result in elemental structures with a delightful charm and appeal, not relying on applied ornament or style. We avoid a superficial nostalgia which attempts to evoke another locale or another era. 

We have recently completed a renovation for First United Methodist Church of Dallas which included comprehensive facility updates while optimizing the use of existing space. The addition of a new community gathering space has created a new front door for the church and a centralized organizational hub for the campus. Projects recently completed or ‘on the boards’ include educational facilities for children, student and adult ministries, including FBC Garland, FUMC Richardson, two separate campuses for Chase Oaks Church and an exciting new church for Sharon UMC in Charlotte, N.C that integrates the church into a million square feet of residential and commercial mixed uses. 

Each of these projects offers unique opportunities and challenges that ultimately shape the associated approach to our design.  Our clients are typically interested in creative, innovative solutions that meet their programmatic needs while providing good value and ‘bang for the buck’ …so to speak.  We are most pleased with a result that reflects the agreed upon intentions and that please our clients. We also feel blessed to have the opportunity to participate in so many projects that we believe are impactful, transformational and life changing for its users.

ARTICLE TOPICS

Design & Construction · Awards · Solomon Awards · Building Design · Church Architect · Church Design · All Topics


Support and Enhance the Worship Message

The latest strategies for sound, lighting and facilities can help you better attract and engage with your congregation. With Worship Facilities’ insights on leadership, communication and administrative tools, each issue shows you how to design and maintain your facility and how to adapt it to meet the changing needs of today’s members.
Explore the success stories of others, and find ways to enhance your weekly services. Get a free subscription to Worship Facilities magazine. Subscribe today!

Boxcast Promo