Church design and construction in a post-pandemic world

By Brittany Kuhn

Worship facilities design and construction is going through a renaissance of sorts.

In recent years, there’s been a growing yet prominent trend toward increasingly versatile spaces. Traditional single-worship venues are being transformed into (or sometimes replaced by) modern community hubs that present clean lines, promote larger gathering spaces and offer appealing multifunctional use.

In light of Covid-19, however, this trend has become only more pronounced — particularly for those embarking on new church building projects. For many of them, the goal is to create large, open spans for congregations in a safe and cost-effective way, while also maximizing square footage in a post-pandemic world.

That’s something at top of mind for Tracey Bradshaw, Vice President of Construction for Master’s Plan Church Design & Construction, a trusted partner to pastors and churches across the nation as they lead their congregations through the concept, design and construction phases of a church project.

“We feel a calling for what we do,” says Tracey. “That is, first and foremost, to help the church.”

The company takes a unique and transparent approach by getting involved early in the process, helping congregation leaders to evaluate their land options and developing a plan that will enable them to live out their mission on time, on vision and on budget.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, Tracey says, that solution is a metal building: flexible systems that can be modularly reconfigured to the safety requirements that churches must incorporate now, and then easily be expanded for long-term growth needs of the future.

“For many churches, a key issue is overcrowding,” he says, noting that metal buildings allow more flexibility in terms of reutilizing, reconfiguring and re-envisioning spaces.

“They have larger spans that create larger gathering areas so people can come together or socially distance. They also cost about 40 percent less to build than a traditional building and go up in less time—which is relevant in times of uncertainty when no one knows what the next year might look like,” he adds.

Master’s Plan teams up with leading steel manufacturers like Vulcan Steel Structures, Inc. to get their projects done. One of those projects is a 20,000-square-foot structure being built for 30-year-old Providence Church in Albany, Ga. It’s a congregation of 400 with deep roots in the community.

According to Executive Pastor Brynn Copron, Providence Church is taking all the precautions necessary to adhere to Covid-19 guidelines in their 5,000-square-foot space that was a former ShowBiz Pizza Place, but she can’t wait for the new facility to open.

“Having a multi-functional space where we can spread out is going to be key, and being able to have flexibility at a fraction of the cost is huge,” she says. “Right now, we’re holding multiple services, live streaming and seating at 40 percent capacity every other row, but having lobby space and room for people to be distanced at their comfort level will be huge.”

What’s more, Brynn has been confident in the decision to use a metal building, which can be customized on the outside to fit virtually any stylistic preference.

“We wanted our church to be something that is contemporary and reflective of being welcoming and home,” she said. “We’re real excited to have a building that looks like the church feels.”

Keeping services running in these unprecedented times while managing a construction project is a lot of work, but Brynn says the process has been seamless.

“Master’s Plan has been fantastic, and with Vulcan Steel everything feels very like-minded,” she says. “They’ve been great in terms of prioritizing our needs and meeting our schedule at a time when we need it most. We’ve been blessed to find them.”

Brittany Kühn is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.

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