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Owasso First Assembly of God
By: Jennifer Walker-Journey

 When the members of Owasso (Oklahoma) First Assembly of God set out to build a children's Sunday school wing to house its extensive children's ministry, they wanted it to be sure it captured the awe of children.

They wanted the building to speak to children, who, in turn, would ask their parents to visit the church. And, once inside, they wanted the space to be decorated so that it lived up to those high expectations.

Owasso is a suburb of Tulsa, a community with small-town charm and big-city amenities, which makes it an ideal place to raise a family. It's also an excellent place to grow a church, especially one that is dedicated to serving the entire family. It made a perfect home for Owasso First Assembly, and growing the church's children's ministry was an obvious step.

Owasso First Assembly turned to Douglas Huber Architects in neighboring Tulsa to create the ideal children's area. Douglas Huber Architects, or DOUG, is a small firm specializing in concierge-level customer service.

One of its major fortes is church architecture, and Owasso First Assembly's project gave the firm a broad palate from which to create a fun space.

Churches by Daniel, a church construction and commercial construction company located in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, signed on to build the plan. Shelly Walters Designs was hired to design the theme.

The idea was to construct a two-story children's wing that would be built out of the current church building. The wing would reach out toward the man road in a semicircle of windows two stories high, revealing a large and colorful play center just inside for children ages three to eight.

To build the structure, the interior of the first floor of the building had to be gutted and a second story constructed over the top. For added strength and durability, the building was reinforced with structural steel and the exterior walls with EIFS, exterior insulation finish system, a type of energy-efficient building exterior wall cladding system. The roof was designed to be Duralast with a white single membrane that reflects heat, another highly energy-efficient building product.

Inside, rooms were made for specialized play areas and classrooms, an elevator for access, and a new canopy drop off area that opened into a lobby. The parking area was redesigned and driveways were rerouted.

Once construction was completed, more work was needed to capture the theme for the children's area, which was already known as "O Town Kids," for Owasso.

"The hallway walls were themed to be the street of O Town with each classroom themed as a store front in the town," said Doug Cason, project manager with Churches by Daniels. "The interior of each classroom followed suit to the store front and were chosen to fit the age of children in the classroom."

For example, the infant room is the Pet Shop, 1-year-olds have the Toy Store, 2s are in the Paint Depot, 3s play in the Creamery, and 4s and 5s have the Park. Other rooms include the Coffee Shop, Video, and Skateboard Park.

All wall space is painted with rich vibrant murals. But the most eye-catching element is the brightly color play structure that winds through the play area.

The children's auditorium, noteworthy in its own right, is aptly named "The Warehouse" and is complete with stained concrete, blacked out exposed ceiling structure, crates, pallets, drums and a painted piping on the walls.

The project, which was completed in February 2012, took just less than a year to complete and cost about $1.6 million. The end result is nothing less than awe-inspiring.

According to the church website, "Our goal is to provide an atmosphere where your babies and toddlers are safe, experience God's love, and have a lot of fun." By all appearances, the new wing achieves that goal.

Churches by Daniels Construction, a branch of Daniels & Daniels, is a church construction and commercial company with more than 30 years of leadership with church construction projects, church design build, architecture and general contracting, www.churchesbydaniels.com.

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