Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Look of the Improved Sanctuary

On June 11, the Sanctuary Improvement Team met and studied drawings, made by Bob Shaw, based on their own discussions and the feedback they have received from church attenders. Bob, an architect, chairs the meetings, and the other members are Tom Hight, Jeremy McAninch, Kirk Sherrell (an engineer), Katrina Mendenhall (an interior designer), Jean Imholte, and Leon Rennells (a recently retired City of Longview building inspector).

As you enter the East Hills building as shown on the drawings, you come in through glass doors. Changing the layout of the stairwells is not practical, but much can be done in the foyer to make it feel more open. The partial walls left over from previous remodeling are pared to only the structurally essential pieces. The large window in the rear wall of the sanctuary is replaced with two smaller ones, one on either side, and all the doors into the sanctuary are also glass. The coffee area is upgraded with a permanent counter, sink, and its own hot water heater.

The sanctuary is fully carpeted, and chairs replace the pews. Darker wainscoting comes up as far as the horizontal divider in the windows, then gives way to lighter paint. The ceiling fans are gone, and the lights replaced, probably with new pendant lights in a similar arrangement.

In the drawings, the platform is the same height, but extends about three feet farther out. The platform reaches all the way to the wall on the congregation's right, and to the edge of the outer doorway on the left. Instead of a lip, almost the entire raised area is surrounded by two steps, 18 inches wide in front and a foot on the sides. The steps in the very back of the stage are gone, and the projector is mounted from the ceiling. The overall effect is that the usable platform area gained is much larger than the seating area lost.

The railing on the loft is raised to bring it up to code, and the partial wall above it removed to improve air circulation. The handrails along the stairs leading to Kidville are replaced as well. The foyer carpet treatment continues up and down both sets of stairs and into the loft.

Although the full SIT has yet to weigh in, and many details of wiring, ventilation, and insulation are still uncertain, a majority of the team has seen the designs and is positive toward the look and general intent of them. After the full team has had its say, the next step is to get bids on the biggest expenses-- carpet, 255 chairs, and construction of the new platform-- and determine how much of the work we can do ourselves.

"We're very happy with the quality of comments we've gotten," Tom said. "The drawings are tracking pretty well with what people want."

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