Highland Park United Methodist Church has a beautiful campus in Dallas, located on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Their first buildings, rich in Gothic detailing, were constructed in 1926. One of the challenges of their prime location is that they are landlocked by the University on two sides, and elegant historic residential neighborhoods on the other two sides. When they needed to expand their children’s ministry, there was nowhere to expand, so they had to turn their vision inward to the buildings that they already were occupying.
The children’s church needed to be more than doubled in space. The church had a vision of an open, expansive space for the children, with gathering areas, large assembly style classrooms, high ceilings, lots of color and an interactive space. There was no secure check-in for the children, and the children’s classrooms had expanded into other areas of the church, forcing the teachers to lead the children in lines through corridors crowded with adults. Working with the children’s education team, the designers came up with a plan that exposed the large trusses in the Welcome and Gathering space and made them a design feature rather than a design limitation. Ceilings were opened to structure. Wide angled corridors sliced and jogged through the space, making it feel large and open in spite of the low ceilings.
The church had commissioned a series of paintings of Bible Heroes from artist Lynn Eskridge, so the designers pulled the vivid color palette from the painting series for the interior finish scheme. Check-in kiosks for members, and a manned check-in desk for new guests and visitors anchor the Lobby and Gathering Space. LED color-changing light sticks hung at varying angles provide accent lighting. Backpainted glass markerboard fills one wall, provide interactivity: every inch of the markerboard was utilized by the children on opening day. Liquid lava floor tiles are set into the carpet tile throughout, delighting both children and adults and providing another element of interactivity. Frames with chasing lights illuminate the large Bible Hero paintings. The congregation loves their new children’s space,and attendance has soared.