Design & Construction

Community-Facing Church Design

At Shepard Church in Porter Ranch, Calif. the design makes 3,500 seats feel like 1,500.

How a practical building infused with story won a neighborhood and earned approval in a city with tight building restrictions.

Cathy Hutchison  ·  December 29, 2017

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What do you do when you are a church with limited land, city constraints and budget pressures, yet you’ve outgrown your facilities and need to build something larger?

Shepherd Church in Porter Ranch, CA faced exactly those problems.

The church owns a long narrow strip of land which faces a busy street—across from a large commercial retail center—located in a bedroom community in the northwest region of Los Angeles. The church knew the city approval process would be tight and that they needed to be able to build something functional and high-capacity within a limited budget.

With over 10,000 people coming on a weekend, their existing 1,500-seat worship auditorium was not enough. And while the church had worked on a design for a larger space previously, it wound up being substantially over budget, and not the right fit for the church nor the community.


“One of our big concerns,” explains Executive Pastor, Tim Winters, “was getting city approval for what we wanted to build.” Porter Ranch is in the San Fernando Valley and while it’s technically part of Los Angeles, the neighborhood maintains its natural beauty and feels like a quiet community. The city council works hard to ensure the community keeps the character that the residents love.

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