Part of the first phase of our campus master planning effort included an evaluation of our existing land and square footage. Before we can know which parts of our campus can be developed, we have to know how much space we have now, and how much we need to preserve for future church use.
The Campus Master Plan Task Force engaged Merriman Holt Powell Architects to help us with this exercise. MHPA is well known to South Main — they have worked with us on the Sanctuary Building renovation, the Next Wave renovation, and the Touch the Future campaign. They are no strangers to our campus, yet they still needed to take a fresh look at our space.
Several weeks ago they came out and took a tour of our spaces. We walked through all the buildings — Sanctuary, Fellowship Hall, classrooms, common areas, attics, and mechanical rooms, etc. — our sacred spaces and our "less sacred" spaces. They took detailed measurements of the inside and outside of our buildings, interviewed the staff and members about our wants and wishes for any future buildings, and prepared a detailed spreadsheet comparing our existing footprint and what our future footprint might be.
As we were walking around the campus and passing through the Reba Garden, the Chapel Courtyard, and the Fountain green space, Bill Merriman said something that struck me. "You know, you all really need to think of these areas as outdoor rooms." It's an image I had never considered, but it stuck with me. Our green spaces provide respite for our church and our community. In fact, it was one of the things we heard most often from the congregation during our listening sessions — we need to keep as much green space as possible. It's a priority for the church and the task force, and something we want to preserve for future generations. While they may not have four walls and a ceiling, these sacred outdoor rooms provide a place for reflection, for play, and for fellowship.