Creating a more sustainable world - one project at a time

Beginning with a need to move their Sunday school out of a damp, moldy basement, the Trinitarian Congregational Church Building Task Force determined that they also wanted an expanded and flexible space that would allow for everything from small groups and lectures to Sunday services for 500 people, musical performances, and meals for up to 400 people.

Maple Hill Architects began the programming process by holding extensive interviews with 18 different ministry groups.  Once detailed space programming requirements were determined, MHA prepared three design options with a range of scope and cost.  Ultimately the congregation approved the option that provided a significant addition comprised of a new two-story lobby and classroom wing, conference rooms, a fellowship hall, a multi-purpose room and a commercial kitchen.  This was combined with renovation of the historic sanctuary, including upgrades for handicap accessibility.

Projects Statistics:
Demolition:                           10,200 square feet
Renovation:                            7,000 square feet
New Construction:               28,000 square feet
Total:                                     35,000 square feet
Construction Cost:       $7,200,000
Cost per square foot:             $206

The Building Task Force’s desire for the new addition was that it would seamlessly blend aesthetically with the portion of the 1928 structure that was to remain.  MHA designed them a traditional New England structure of additive masses and 2nd story dormers that minimizes the height and mass of the new larger facility to meet the Town of Wayland’s stringent height restrictions.  MHA prepared virtual models to allow the client to more fully visualize the design by touring the building exterior and various key interior spaces. These virtual tours allowed the design team to conduct a more effective decision-making process, as well as enhancing fund-raising communication about the building within the congregation.

Multi-Purpose Functionality
A church is truly a multi-purpose facility, with many spaces being used each week for a wide variety of functions as well as great variation in number of occupants.  The space for the Sunday school’s large group meetings doubles as a performance area/coffee house. The fellowship hall serves 200 people for coffee hour, 100 people in chairs for a lunch or lecture with audio visual presentations.  By opening up the operable partition between the fellowship hall and the adjacent gym a combined space is created that allows a Christmas Eve or other large service with a stage and seating for over 500. The design features MHA used to provide this flexibility range from simple appropriate adjacencies to the most effective acoustic partitions.  Audio-visual systems for adjacent rooms can be controlled separately for each room or combined when used as a single space.  Heating, ventilating, and air- conditioning systems respond to occupancy in order to provide appropriate ventilation for larger programs while still minimizing energy use during more regular use.  Sports equipment in the gym is designed to lever up out of the way during non-sport related activities, while projectors and lights are given appropriate protection from flying basket balls.

Green Features / Energy Efficiency
MHA worked from the very start of the project to reduce this facility’s environmental impact.  The very first plan sketches included major wings facing south to take full advantage of free solar heating and ease of summer shading.  MHA met with the client during preliminary design to develop and prioritize green goals.  To fulfill one of these goals-- reduced energy use--the building was modeled under NSTAR’s Advanced Buildings Program.  Ultimately, over 11 separate energy conservation measures, all well above energy code requirements, were adopted, resulting in modeled natural gas use of 51% below Massachusetts Energy Code and electrical use of 30% below code.

Other efficiency enhancements included super insulated walls and roof, efficient window glazing, and daylight harvesting. Occupancy sensors for individual rooms shut off lighting, heating, ventilating and air conditioning; CO2 sensors allow intake of fresh air only when needed. Smaller, residential-style air handling units, which are much more efficient than larger commercial units, allow selective unit use to match the greatly varied occupancy patterns of the individual spaces.  Utility rebates of $64,000 were applied for by the design team and approved by the local utility companies.

Some of the many other green features also reduced construction costs. One notable improvement was the porous pavement parking lot, the first in the Wayland area.  This allowed the storm-water management design for the site to omit traditional catch basins, underground water retention and the associated raising of the grade by more than three feet.  See this link for a You Tube video demonstration of how well the actual installation absorbs water, making it less slick than most traditional parking lots.  This single change reduced the project cost by over $100,000.  It also allowed the site design to integrate better with the surrounding landscape, since the porous parking lot could be graded to align with surrounding grades. 

The building exterior has a traditional aesthetic--clapboard, shingles, white trim boards, windows with divided lights -- but the materials are all modern alternatives that dramatically reduce ongoing maintenance and increase longevity: cement board siding and shingles, aluminum-clad windows and PVC trim that will hold paint 2 – 3 times longer than wood and never rot.

Inside the building more durable and low-maintenance materials were also used--such as rubber flooring in the corridors, porcelain ceramic tile in the lobby, and fiberglass ceiling tiles that will not stain or sag.  These changes significantly reduce ongoing maintenance time and cost.

Circulation & Floor Plan Layout
The new traffic flow is a function of the client’s desire to engage visitors in the fellowship hall more fully as they leave the sanctuary.  This space is the primary area for fellowship before and after services; the redesigned flow of congregants creates greater opportunity to welcome newcomers as well as catch up with friends.  

The children’s ministry layout was also changed greatly from its former basement plan with the new classrooms developed as a separate wing.  This enhanced both acoustic isolation as well as security. 

Renewable Energy
MHA prepared plans for a 50 kW photovoltaic (PV) system in three arrays on the church roof.  This included a physical layout, a financial plan, and a sample contract for funding by outside investors.  The financial concept allowed for this upgrade to be made with no up-front cost to the client while guaranteeing ongoing energy cost savings.  This system was projected to create about half of the electricity needed for the building from sunshine alone and reduce electrical costs over time.  The project team coordinated space in the boiler room for future PV-related equipment and ran conduits through less accessible ceilings to simplify future PV system installations. 

Trinitarian Congregational Church