Master Plan Update: Let’s Revitalize Grace!

By John Bodine

We’ve now completed our second Master Plan project review, on Wednesday, April 12. The first Project Review was a discussion of the key learnings of JNKA architects. Our second session began the “concept development” phase for how we can address our needs and opportunities for achieving our goals: develop a welcoming spirit, enable programs for children & young families, and leverage existing Grace assets. 

JNKA has proposed two options to adjust our floor plan to provide a larger narthex for gathering. Both ideas involve relocating our church offices away from the prime socializing area next to the Sanctuary. This can open up a large space adjacent to the Sanctuary for gathering with seating and views overlooking the Lacy Garden. The leading idea at present is to move the offices to the lower level below their current location and shift the Music rooms to the upper level education wing facing the lower parking lot. This gets the Music Department (and heavy handbells) closer to the Sanctuary. Investigation is required to ensure adequate sound proofing of music rooms and accommodation of the various Sunday School classes, programs, and activity groups that might be impacted.

Addressing needs for children’s programs requires a complete review of space requirements. This includes multi-use furniture that can be used for both kids and adults and that can be stored easily, improved décor, repurposing  some rooms, and updating signage and play equipment. We will rely heavily on guidance from our Children and Family Council in partnership with Parent’s Day Out.

Equally important is overcoming some obstacles that we have long suffered, like improved access to rest rooms outside of Fellowship Hall. This is not an easy fix, but we will work hard to see what can be done to make access and ample space in all of our rest rooms a priority. Another important area to address is the need for proper storage of materials at Grace, whether used seasonally or frequently in specific meeting rooms. This issue will be a subject of design consideration and we will hopefully come up with a good plan.

A key learning from reviewing current use of space at Grace is the very significant underutilization of classrooms below the Activity Center and the lower level of the northeast side of the building. Most of these rooms are below ground level, have no windows, and do not receive adequate heating, cooling, and humidity control services. We’ll plan to address these issues to develop appropriate HVAC support, make these spaces more habitable, and provide more convenient access.