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Roswell Presbyterian Church - Roswell - Georgia
By: Jennifer-Walker Journey

Before Roswell was an incorporated city in Georgia, Roswell Presbyterian Church stood at its center, sitting at the highest point in the community and extending the welcome of Jesus Christ to the surrounding area. Over the next 170 years, its membership grew, and the historic church expanded and renovated along with it.

In the mid-1990s, the church entered into a relationship with Randall-Paulson Architects, which was a natural association, as many of the firm's architects were active in Roswell Presbyterian's congregation. This partnership brought a new addition to replace the former church office building and included administrative offices, a musical rehearsal suite, a library, and classrooms.

A few short years later, around the time the church welcomed a new pastorate, it began to experience phenomenal growth. Church leadership turned to Randall-Paulson again for an effective way to accommodate the growth.

"Our core strength is listening to clients about their functional, aesthetic, and budgetary requirements and satisfying those needs from conception to completion," said Michael B. Randall, AIA, principal in charge of the Roswell Presbyterian project.

Randall-Paulson did a complete re-evaluation of the entire church campus and developed a master plan that included expanded shared parking with Fulton County Schools, replacement of a 1978-era sanctuary with an 850-seat capacity, doubling the size of the education space, and organizing the campus around a central courtyard.

Shortly after the development of the master plan, the church began construction on the new sanctuary. Randall-Paulson served as associate architects for the new sanctuary and Barber & McMurry of Knoxville, Tennessee, served as lead architect.

The church building more than doubled the existing square footage of the church campus and complemented the historic sanctuary. The sanctuary was balanced with natural acoustics for music and the spoken word. The space also included a 14-room preschool, eight adult classrooms around a central narthex atrium, a fireside room/bride room, and a history room for special functions. They also expanded a 200-car shared parking lot with new highway entrance and built a new, central courtyard for future phase connections and expansions.

By 2005, the church was ready to embark on the last phase of the master plan, a Congregational Life Building. This final phase included a 43,300-square-foot addition and a 30,400-square-foot renovation for the education, fellowship, and office activities.

The church leadership had two key priorities for this phase of refining and implementing the master plan. First, the new plans must foster congregational interaction while still lending identity and functional space for the many varied groups meeting and using the facilities.

"This led to a refinement of an earlier master plan concept of a pedestrian 'Main Street' that would tie the various buildings of the campus together in an efficient, multilevel, circular spine," Randall said. "The new youth wing, fellowship hall, administration space, library, and classrooms all tie directly in to the two sanctuaries and preschool space."

The second key priority was designing the new structures so that they respected the church's historic significance in the community, its centrality to the campus, and its classic Greek Revival aesthetic.

"The building has a unique place in the history of the city of Roswell, as well as the church, and is therefore highly valued by both the congregation and the community," Randall said.

The exterior was designed to respect the Greek Revival architecture and scale of the original historic sanctuary as well as to communicate the welcoming nature of the congregation. A new south tower features the easily identifiable entry to the south end of the "Main Street," and a courtyard between the campus buildings, bounded by a continuous colonnade, fosters gathering and play.

Inside, the elementary spaces feature a bright, imaginative palate "that supports the eager, colorful, natures of children," he said. "The youth areas are more defined by a sense of ownership and edgy energy so valued by that age group."

Parts of the youth area include garage doors for moveable partitioning to create flexible room sizes. Large Fry reglets or a narrow flat, molding were designed into the wall finishes to create striking cross-shaped angled divisions highlighted by a contemporary color scheme. Ceilings were made primarily open, with "clouds" of acoustical ceiling creating visual interest while assisting with sound control. Floors also were made of polished and stained concrete with zones of carpeting.

Adult classrooms and common spaces (such as the library, tower prayer room, and fellowship hall) provide a more neutral background for the many interests of the various users.

The final phase rang in at just under $6.2 million and marked the successful completion of the church's master plan.

"The completion of the master plan has enabled Roswell Presbyterian Church to remain a place where God is glorified through worship, where people of all ages gather to study and grow, where fellowship and support undergirds us, and where Christians are equipped for service and mission in God's world," said Lane Alderman, senior pastor at Roswell Presbyterian. "Children have a safe and inviting place to learn the stories of Jesus. Young people have an area in which they are free to ask the tough questions and seek honest answers about their faith. Adults have room to meet and study and grow. Fellowship opportunities flourish, and families have a lace to grow together in their walk with Christ."

Randall-Paulson Architects began in 1993 in the distribution/light industrial and retail markets and has since expanded to include childcare, education, interiors, government, graphic design, hospitality, office, mixed-use, religious, and sustainability consultation, www.randallpaulson.com.

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