Our Approach to Design Solutions for Religious Clients

Although many of the building problems facing churches today are similar, our design solutions develop from the unique character, history, traditions and needs of your parish. We understand that the concerns of parishioners, trustees, clergy and many others must be addressed by the architect. We also understand the need for solutions that fit within your budget and provide you flexibility as your parish grows and changes over time. Through interaction with various groups affected by the project at hand, we develop an understanding of the current and long-term needs of your church community. This interaction becomes the foundation of our approach to your design problems. With a good basis of understanding about your parish, design solutions will be complete, and the project will be supported during fundraising.

Parish Satisfaction & the Design Process

We believe that it is essential that the parishioners be given the opportunity to participate in the design process as often as is practical. There are several different ways to do this, ranging from parish workshops to presentations. We believe that the more involved the parish is in the process, the higher their satisfaction will be at the end of the project. This has been borne out in every project we have done. Even those who are not initially supportive of a project often come to embrace the end result when they realize that this is what their fellow parishioners wanted. We work hard to ensure very high levels of satisfaction in the parishes we have served.

Channels of Communication

Clear channels of communication are very important to the success of the project. We use a very simple method of communication—all communication goes through the Project Manager. The Project Manager is responsible for gathering information from the Owner, disseminating it to the rest of the Project Team, getting answers to questions from the consultants answered and making sure that all inter-consultant communication is addressed. For Roman Catholic projects, he is also responsible for keeping the Diocese or Archdiocese informed about all aspects of the project through communication with the appropriate diocesan office. All communications of any consequence are documented in writing and distributed to all concerned parties as appropriate.

We believe that it is just as important that the communication with the parishioners is just as clear and direct, particularly when seeking input during the various stages of the project.

Team Building & Value Engineering

We use the Design Team approach for all projects. After meeting with the Owner to determine their needs, we come to our consultants with our preliminary concepts for engineering and acoustical and lighting design. We then work out the solution that meets the Owner’s needs in a cost-effective way. We also often arrange and facilitate meetings of the entire Design Team, including the Owner, to help all parties gain a better understanding of the needs and the proposed design solutions. During these meetings, value engineering options can be presented to the Owner so that they can make informed decisions early on in the process.

Cost Management

Because all our work is for religious organizations, all of our projects have been funding constrained. This has led to the establishment of a carefully controlled process for design and construction. This cost control pervades every aspect of the project, from initial design solutions, to choices of materials and construction techniques to product specifications. We maintain a detailed database of construction costs for church projects. This database allows us evaluate design options on the basis of real costs and to develop construction documents that help control costs. Detailed estimating at 40% and 80% completion of construction documents allows us to fine tune the design and construction documents as necessary to keep the project within budget. Our relationships with firms and individuals dealing with liturgical furnishings, art glass, sculpture, etc. allow us to keep tabs on non-construction costs as well. We feel that a large part of the value our firm brings to any design project is the creativity we use to design buildings to fit the budget. We have never had a project not proceed to construction due to cost overruns at the bidding stage

Quality Control

Just as all communication passes through the Project Manager’s office, so do all project documents, which are reviewed by the Project Manager and the Principal before being forwarded to the Owner. All documents produced in-house are also reviewed by at least one other person in the office, if not more. Although no set of Contract Documents is ever perfect, we pride ourselves on having an excellent track record of minimal change orders due to errors or omissions on our Contract Documents.

Our Commitment to the Environment

We believe that the goodness and beauty of creation is called to glorify God and that it is a gift that must be passed on to future generations. If possible, it should be passed on in better condition. While the buildings we design can never equal the beauty of God’s creation, we believe it is incumbent upon us to contribute positively to the built environment in two ways. First, we believe that we should show our respect for the natural environment through the conservation of natural resources wherever possible. This may take forms ranging from the adaptive reuse of or additions to existing buildings, in lieu of replacing them with new structures, to the specifying of recycled or environmentally sensitive construction materials. We ask all our clients to carefully consider the extent to which they wish to commit to protection of our natural resources in their building project. Our staff is trained in the certification of buildings designed to meet LEED standards and will work with our clients to achieve whatever level of compliance they feel meets their goals.

The second way in which we attempt to contribute positively to the built environment is through the design of contextually sensitive structures. We believe that when it comes to works of human ingenuity rather than divine creation, architects have a significant responsibility to protect the aesthetic value of God’s creation through the design of thoughtful and beautiful buildings. We believe that the aesthetic aspects of buildings, particularly those built to last fifty to one hundred years, as most religious buildings are, should be given due consideration by our clients during the design phase.