Text description provided by the architects. A unique client’s vision and openness to abstract symbolism provided EOP Architects the opportunity to transform a long vacant and neglected retail mall into an energized campus with a newfound purpose. Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky, requested a contemporary, iconic design that would be welcoming, inspirational and transformational but devoid of any traditional references to Christianity: there are no conventional steeples, crosses, or stained glass windows. However, the design response includes a number of abstract interpretations with references to these elements.
The LED-lighted sun screen that drapes the exterior of the educational center symbolizes a contemporary stained glass window and the slanted colonnade composition that defines the worship center’s exterior is a modern interpretation of the crucifixion. Additional design metaphors include references to the heavens through a pattern of recessed light niches and angular wall planes representing mountains.
The 140,000-square-foot space that formerly housed a large regional department store has been renovated into educational spaces. There are several teaching and group gathering rooms, a nursery, separate learning spaces for pre-school, K-2, grades 3-5 and a large center for student ministries for middle and high school students.
Adjacent to the educational spaces, a 49,000-square-foot addition houses the 2,800-seat worship center with state-of-the-art audiovisual technology. Three giant screens simulcast sermons from Southland’s main campus while a live band performs on its large stage. An asymmetrical baptistery with a dry area for family viewing mirrors asymmetrical exterior entrances. The curved balcony is fronted by a concrete, cantered façade which helps collect low bass notes to enhance sound quality.
The educational spaces and worship hall are joined by Connection Point, marked by a large, asymmetrical polygon with a nautical symbolism for easy wayfinding. At Connection Point, there is a large café for pre- and post-functions as well as an information desk where visitors’ questions are answered.
In addition to the building renovation and addition, the project includes the redevelopment of the 30-acre campus. The site plan includes a formal plaza and parking for 1,800 vehicles.