2017 Solomon Awards

Design & Construction

Solomon Awards Westminster Presbyterian Church

Age, water damage, and being functionally obsolete required our team to rescue, redesign, and restore this sanctuary! The final project reoriented the sanctuary to reduce pedestrian travel through other areas, added a chapel, and reclaimed the previously unused narthex space - while maintaining a true reformed traditional architecture style.


WFM Staff  ·  September 26, 2017

What to do with an aged and functionally obsolete sanctuary that has suffered the ravages of water infiltration for years?

Bring in a team to rescue, redesign, and restore! What began as an attempt to mitigate and correct water intrusion, evolved to also address an equally challenging problem with ministry space function.

Built 60 years ago as a neighborhood church at a time when most members walked to services on Sunday morning, parking was generally limited to a few on-street spaces. As years passed and increased vehicular traffic generated demand, a parking lot was built on available land to the rear of the site, encouraging pedestrian travel through education and fellowship space to reach worship. This resulted in impeding several ministries and largely abandoning the large narthex.

Edifice was brought in early in design (conceptual) to work with Westminster and WKWW Architects on a possible solution.

This allowed us to provide the most efficient constructability of the project, maximize the program, and design within the church’s limited budget. Very early in this process, we asked the design team to explore the possibility of flipping the orientation of the worship space 180 with a complete interior demolition and rebuild.

That concept was ultimately adopted and successfully developed. In doing so, the primary entrance to the sanctuary is now located near to the existing parking lot, allowing for reduced pedestrian travel. Secondary points of entry have been created to mitigate congestion in other ministry areas, and the once underutilized narthex space has been reclaimed and incorporated as the chancel area in the new layout. As a bonus, the added square footage which resulted allowed for the creation of a new entry corridor and 75-seat chapel with stained glass to the rear of the nave. 

We feel that success is only derived with a collaborative team approach, where ideas and progress are shared with the entire project team. With our “open book policy,” all of our estimates are shared at every stage of the process. Our ability to service throughout pre-construction with detailed open estimates, specifications, and qualifications is essential. During construction, we kept the lines of communication wide open with the architect and owner, and also with our subcontractors.

Close coordination was the key to overcoming the many “old building” structural challenges we encountered and meeting the symmetry requirements of HVAC, electrical, millwork, AVL, and even the flooring, finishes, pews, and furniture. Our Quality Control Program, adopted from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Navy’s “CQM System” proved key. 

In recent years, the trend in new worship space has leaned heavily toward that of performing arts centers, relying on artificial sound systems and theatrical lighting to help create the worship experience. From the beginning, Westminster Presbyterian Church desired to retain a true reformed traditional architecture for their sanctuary where tradition states that the worship experience is enhanced by utilizing those architectural elements that lift your attention “toward God/heaven” - high volume, natural light, natural acoustics, and an emphasis on the proclamation of the word of God. By thoughtfully and carefully redeveloping their existing building, and thereby saving untold precious construction dollars, Westminster Presbyterian Church is now positioned to continue that proclamation for generations to come!

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