AIA Cleveland
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Featured Project

AIA Cleveland recognizes excellence in design by inviting local firms to submit their best work to be the featured project of the month. 

FEATURED PROJECT

Architect: JKurtz Architects
Project:  Disciples Christian Church

Project Description:
Disciples Christian Church occupies a common position among congregations today, maintaining an outsized and aging building that no longer meets the needs of those it is to serve. In exchange for rights to the remainder of 3.5 acres, the development partner agreed to help finance a move from a 27,000 SF structure built in 1956 to an updated 10,000 SF structure customized to current needs and the church’s  progressive inclusive spiritual mission.

Our design is a village-like assembly of platonic volumes, interior and exterior rooms, which support and reinforce each other's use. Organizing complementary uses around the spatial relief provided by the gardens permits a densely packed program to eliminate corridors and increase utility. This aggregation of discretely articulated but interconnected volumes is surmounted by a singular, modulated roofscape; unifying performance, materiality, and identity.

CORE PRINCIPLES
Establish a dignified sanctuary which invokes the sacred in universal ways
Use light and connections between activities to shape the experience of the new structure
Encourage use by a broader audience during off-hours without compromising core use
Begin with sustainable underpinnings of flexibility and cross- programming, no throw away space, minimize corridors, all spaces support one another
Allow nature and light to shape the structure as much as program and use, all components should be reciprocal and mutually reinforcing

PROGRAMMING
Space needs include the Sanctuary, Fellowship Hall and kitchen, educational classrooms, offices, and a hunger center. A Courtyard, Terrace, and Memorial Garden anchor and link sacred spaces; connecting everyday experience of users to nature, worship, communion, and education. The spatial ‘relief’ provided by the gardens permits a densely packed program to eliminate corridors and increase utility; essential to a prudent reduction in area. In distributing classrooms throughout the facility, rather than having a common classroom ‘wing’, we allow each space to adapt depending on the ceremony, day, and need. A small classroom is also a nursery, music room, crying room and space for private reflection. Another is also the robing room for baptisms, vestry, bride’s quarters, and conference room. Youth and Children’s Classrooms serve as sanctuary, dining overflow, and Hunger Center expansion during holidays and high season.

MASSING
The structure is to be both expressive and formed around intimate experiences. The new church will anchor the corner of Mayfield Road, 7 lanes wide and characterized by big box retail and larger institutional structures. The form of the sanctuary emerges, from the village-like assembly of programmatic volumes below. Iconography from the existing church is reused in ways that are both new and historically significant.

SUSTAINABILITY + MATERIALITY
A viable future for the church structure will be determined by the economics, character, longevity, and maintainability of the materials chosen. A combination of tested and new materials with long-life-cycle horizons are deployed in sometimes unconventional ways. The form, protected openings, continuous volumes, allows the use of products that interact dramatically with the environment, light, reflection; changing in time and acquiring patina, while resisting degradation.