ChristChurch Presbyterian Announces Dramatic New Church Slated for Peachtree Street, Designed by Gertler & Wente Architects and Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh & Associates
Atlanta’s ChristChurch Presbyterian (www.christchurchatlanta.org) will soon break ground on a dramatic new sanctuary at 1740 Peachtree Street in Midtown. Unlike a traditional Southern or Gothic worship facility, the new church will feature an exciting modern design that will incorporate much of the site’s existing building and complement its urban setting. Gertler &Wente Architects, LLP (www.gwarch.com), a New York City-based architecture firm, is serving as lead designer and Architect of Record, and Atlanta-based Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh & Associates (TSW, www.tsw-design.com) is the Local Architect.
“Our congregation is committed to serving both our neighborhood and the City of Atlanta through welcome, outreach and worship,” said Rev. Dr. Paul Gardner, the senior pastor. “We are outgrowing our current facility and cannot adequately expand our congregation and reach our city without additional space where we can worship and meet together, invite people to join us and provide gathering spaces for youth, classes, meals, counseling and ministry work.”
Four years ago, the congregation purchased a three-story office building at the corner of Peachtree and 25th Streets, just a few blocks from their current location, and began the process of clarifying what they wanted to do with the site. Church members agreed they wanted to incorporate as much of the existing building as possible into a new facility, rather than destroy it.
“We researched and interviewed a number of architecture firms,” said Carter Reames, chairman of ChristChurch’s building committee. “We were familiar with Gertler & Wente through their innovative repurposing of a 1913 Manhattan parking garage into a spectacular new church for Redeemer Presbyterian Church. We believed they could bring fresh and exciting ideas to Atlanta to transform our vision for a new sanctuary into a beautiful design. TSW recently won a national award for the design of a new contemporary worship facility for Woodstock Community Church, and having them on the design team brings the local expertise that’s so important in a project like this.”
“ChristChurch is a dynamic, young congregation with a strong mission of reaching out to the community,” said Larry J. Wente, AIA, LEED AP, and founding partner of Gertler & Wente. “In our meetings with church leaders, they stressed their desire for a visible, environmentally-friendly church building that invites people in and serves the community in ways beyond traditional worship. They want the structure to make a strong architectural statement and reflect the forward-thinking, modern dynamic of Midtown. At the same time, using as much of the existing building as is feasible is good for the environment and cost-effective.”
The two architecture firms collaborated on a design that expands the existing building on its south side and elevates the roof and windows above a 925-seat sanctuary. Seating inside the sanctuary will be accomplished through stackable chairs, rather than permanent pews, making the room flexible for other uses apart from worship services. The Peachtree Street side of the building will feature a subtle tower with three crosses facing north, south and east. An inviting courtyard will help transition visitors from the busy city streetscape to the more contemplative areas of the building.
“As New Urbanists, we like to push buildings out to the sidewalk to encourage interaction and pedestrian traffic – goals shared by ChristChurch,” said Jerry Spangler, AIA, LEED AP, and founding principal of TSW. “The new church will feature a coffee shop facing Peachtree Street and an art gallery on the building’s south side. The contextual modern design will help the structure blend in with its neighbors, and we will use steel and glass in the construction as well as more traditional church building materials like brick and stone. The exterior will be clad in a large-scale porcelain panel along with the brick, glass and steel. Passers-by will know it’s a church, but they might have to take a second look to be sure,” he said.
In addition to the sanctuary, art gallery and coffee shop, the new building will house church offices, classrooms, work areas and meeting space. Construction documents are being prepared with a goal of breaking ground in early June 2013. Wente says he expects the construction process to take about 18 months.
“You won’t see traditional closed wooden doors on this church,” said Dr. Gardner. “The open design and generous use of glass windows and doors will allow passers-by to look into our facility, where we’ll have activities going on every day of the week. We also plan for our coffee shop to become a neighborhood gathering spot, and we’ll hold frequent art exhibits in the new gallery. We want to create a spirit of excitement and invitation so everyone will feel welcome to come in and join us.”
About Gertler & Wente Architects, LLP
Gertler & Wente Architects is a New York City-based architecture firm founded by partners Jeff Gertler and Larry Wente in 1985. The firm specializes in designing environmentally-sensitive buildings for institutional, retail, commercial, healthcare, historic restoration, multi-unit residential and single-family residential projects, with a particular focus on community-based, not-for-profit institutional clients. An award-winning firm, Gertler & Wente Architects has been widely published in such venues as the New York Times, British Vogue, Elle Décor, Metropolitan Home, Travel and Leisure and Martha Stewart Living. For more information, visit www.gwarch.com.
About Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh & Associates
Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh & Associates (TSW) is a full-service planning, architecture and landscape architecture firm. The award-winning Atlanta-based company was founded in 1990 and specializes in sustainable community design and architecture. TSW is a leader in the New Urbanist movement and employs a community planning and design process that links tradition and context with today’s cultural and environmental demands. Sustainable design is an integral part of all TSW work, from the master plan level to the individual building components. TSW’s staff members are LEED Accredited Professionals and their designs incorporate a range of ideas for progressive energy and resource saving solutions. www.tsw-design.com.
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