Text description provided by the architects. North Presbyterian Church houses a unique congregation in urban Cleveland. With dwindling or relocated congregations, urban churches from a variety of denominations (including Presbyterian) are being closed and decommissioned at a staggering rate within Cleveland's urban core. With a congregation from diverse socioeconomic and spiritual backgrounds, North Church has fought to continue its ministry within the blighted neighborhood it calls home. To sustain its ministry, North Church made the choice to move out of its over-sized and costly to maintain historic building. The congregation functions on a shoestring budget funded largely by donations from partner churches, thus the new facility had to be extremely low cost to build, operate, and maintain.
The site for the new North Church is an existing abandoned industrial warehouse building where the church is strategically collocated with a series of affiliated nonprofit social organizations. North Church desired to have a unique, distinguishable, and inviting image within the larger complex. Spatial limitations in the existing building meant the sanctuary was required to be shared space with all tenants providing large meeting and assembly spaces divisible by movable partitions.
The architecture capitalizes on the multi-purpose function of the sanctuary to enhance the spatial qualities that characterize sacred worship space (symmetry, volume, indirect natural light). Conceived as a hybrid canopy/cathedral, the ceiling surface undulates to create a series of vaults that maximize the spatial volume available while simultaneously concealing the appearance of hardware and headers required for the movable partitions. Clad in a durable bamboo resin material used in the construction of skate board parks, the faceted ceiling panels are subdivided into an animated triangular pattern that accommodates lighting, HVAC, and sprinkler systems. To maximize material economy and fabrication, a limited amount of triangular tile shapes repeat in a variety of patterns throughout. Reflective colored panels are introduced that echo the stained glass windows from the church's former home.