Text description provided by the architects. Semple Brown Design designed an addition to the Littleton Church of Christ that took advantage of the site’s features including the commanding views of the Front Range. This remedied the three main drawbacks of the original building. The drawbacks included:
Lack of a welcoming first impression. The existing structure’s main entrance was not visible from the main thoroughfare, Colorado Boulevard. From the street, the building was completely surrounded by parking lots, creating unnecessary disconnection and isolation of the large and expansive lawn areas around the property.
The building’s complete disregard of the views from the site. The design was introverted, sharply conflicting with the congregation’s desire to reach out to the community.
A building layout that presented a confusing and disconnected circulation path to members and visitors alike.
See how Semple Brown Design tackled these drawbacks after the break.
The goals developed in the master planning phase were:
1. Provide a phased approach to the facility expansion; allowing for fundraising over time.
2. Improve the image of the church building’s first impressions
3. Create a welcoming entry sequence for both the congregation and possible future members
4. Increase the number of classrooms (children, youth and adult), and administrative offices
5. Increase capacity of the auditorium from 600 to 1000
6. Improve views to and from the church
7. Provide safe playground area for children
8. Increase parking and improve the use of the outdoor lawn areas
Phase Two focused on a new entry addressing the street, expansion of spaces for children and youth and development of additional parking.
The 26,165 sqf expansion is spread out on two floors and a partial basement. It includes the main entry and lobby area, thirteen classrooms, two children’s theatres, a children’s library, nursery/day care, and a suite of classrooms and common spaces for youth.
Great efforts were made by the design team to break down the scale of the building by creating small shifts in plane and keeping well proportioned massing changes. The fenestration of the building was intended to be varied and unique in order to improve on the building’s image – though the primary use and function of the expansion is educational the team kept it from becoming a stereotypical school building; instead, it has an abstractly theological feel to it.
A steel and polygal canopy reaches out to the street and draws the eye back to the main entry while providing a sheltered walkway from the drop-off area to the front door. The lobby provides two different experiences: first the soaring vertical entry space creates an upward focus to the heavens while the second is a distinctly horizontal movement created by lowering a portion of the ceiling to form a more intimate conversation area of the lobby.
During the planning and design of Phase Two, great consideration was given to the ‘final connection’ to not only the existing spaces but more importantly to the future spaces in Phase Three. The high portion of the lobby will be stretched west towards the dramatic, distant views of the Front Range and Mt. Evans Peak. At the same time, the walls grow closer, tightening the aperture and highlighting the connection between heaven and earth. “The Wedge” is the vertical white element supporting the cross along the north side of the main entry. It will play a pivotal role in joining Phase Two and Three by becoming the visual and physical anchor where both phases of construction will meet seamlessly.
Phase Three (54,000 sqf) will concentrate on a 1,000-seat auditorium, adult classrooms, administration, a community food bank, kitchen, outdoor amphitheater as well as lawn areas for church and community events, and more parking. The only remaining component of the original building, the auditorium, will be converted into a gymnasium/flex space that establishes an informal gathering space for the entire community.