Addition: Ascension Lutheran Church

October 6th, 2005 by Peter Schmelzer

Northfield Architects design Brookings church

Ascension Lutheran Church is a thriving congregation in Brookings, South Dakota.

Lutheran Church Addition - Vivus ArchitectsAscension Lutheran Church is a thriving congregation in Brookings, South Dakota.

While employed with SMSQ Architects, I worked with the Building Task Force to develop a long term Master Plan for expansion of their facilities. When the time came to develop the first project of the Master Plan, Vivus was selected as the design architect, working with the architect of record, Koch Hazard Architects of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The project is a worship space addition and remodeling of existing space for a new gathering space, restrooms, administrative offices, conference room and an improved fellowship hall.

Budget: Tight for the scope of work desired.
Aesthetics: As you will see, the existing worship space presented very strong geometry that was to be respected with the new addition.
Hospitality and Flow: The existing floor plan made navigating to the various rooms of the building very challenging for new members.
Tight Site: Landlocked by city streets, the addition had to respond to tight setbacks and to the big picture of the Master Plan.


Simple geometry responds to both the aesthetic and budget concerns. Axial arrangement of the altar platform with the existing church unifies the worship and gathering spaces in a way that suits the aesthetic and liturgical sensibilities of the congregation.
The new gathering space becomes the hub of activity. Visitors clearly know where to find worship and reception, with a strong corridor connection to Fellowship and Education. Restrooms are discreetly out of sight but easy to find (and located for easy verbal directions).
The Fellowship Hall remodeling allows meetings of various sizes, acoustically tuned for each. Also, the corridor is separated from the Fellowship Hall, so private meetings are not disrupted by traffic to the education wing.
Offices are centrally located for better functionality and connection to the hub. A new work room will dramatically improve production of church fliers and bulletins and will graciously accomodate a variety of volunteer help.

Other Features:
Flexible seating (chairs) for re-posturing the assembly
Central Skylight: unifies the assembly with natural light, provides a beacon in the night supporting a new, lighted cross
Coffee Bar: Hard-plumbed facility for this primary Lutheran institution of hospitality
Entry Portal: Custom wood doors with leaded glass transom to celebrate the passage from gathering to worship.
Cross Window: Large northwest window links the assembly to the beautiful site and proclaims the nature of the building to passers-by.

The images that follow describe the interactive design process up to Design Development. There are several images and a video clip, so dial-up viewers may want to plan a break before reading further.

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