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Riverwood Covenant Church

For Riverwood Covenant Church in Greenfield, Minnesota, holding Sunday services inside the local high school auditorium had served its membership well since the church’s founding in 2002.

But several factors were driving the church to seek a permanent home — not the least of which was the desire to consolidate its many outreach programs.

“There was one year that we met in 13 different locations for various activities with the church,” said Senior Pastor Keith Robinson. “We had the stability of meeting in the auditorium for Sunday mornings, but not for all of the other events that the church was doing.”

In addition to wanting a single functional facility that would welcome the community through its doors, Riverwood also had a strong desire to convey a more unique identity for itself and its growing congregation.

So, in 2010, Riverwood decided it was time to build. The process began with Pastor Robinson and the other church leadership exchanging design ideas for their new facility. The administrators then met with a local design firm to officially draw up blueprints.

The original building plans called for a 100 percent conventionally built structure consisting of all cement block walls. Riverwood tapped Kinghorn Construction of nearby Rogers, Minnesota, to handle construction, based on a familiarity with some other churches the firm had built in the area.

The project was discovered to be over budget based on the plan and spec drawings. As a result, Riverwood and Kinghorn were compelled to seek an alternate plan for construction.

The change in direction actually proved to be a huge blessing in disguise. Kinghorn, a Butler Builder, was able to fully meet the church’s facility needs with a Butler building system—with significant cost savings over the conventional construction design.

Delivering the same look and functionality for less
An unforeseen site preparation issue on the 15-acre parcel of land that the church had purchased for its new home was a primary culprit for their budget woes.

“We had to do a lot of excavation work on the property,” said Robinson. “There is a 32-foot elevation difference between the far east of the property and the far west. So we had to actually level out the land and build a drainage ditch system according to the parameters set forth by the county.”

All told, the excavation work came to nearly $600,000, which meant that cost reductions had to be made in order to finish out the building’s construction. Despite the obstacles, John Studer, project manager, Kinghorn Construction, was determined to deliver a new building that still lived up to the church’s functional and aesthetic wishes.
 “The new challenge was, how do we maintain the footprint and get that square footage with a 10 to 15 percent reduction in our total available funds,” said Studer.

Taking full advantage of all the efficiencies that Butler building systems provide, Kinghorn was able to achieve just that.

Pastor Robinson was actually on a three-month sabbatical when the decision was made to switch to the Butler building. And when he returned, he couldn’t have been more pleased with the new direction.

“It was a brilliant move,” said Robinson, who was familiar with the concept of systems construction, but surprised to discover just how customizable it could be. “The Butler building accomplished almost exactly the same design, but saved us approximately $350,000.”

With Butler, no compromises necessary
Riverwood’s vision for its new home was an approximately 13,000-square-foot “phase-one” building that would accommodate the church’s current activities, while still allowing for future expansion down the road.

“Our goal was to maintain the original 13,000-square-foot space, and that’s when we came up with Butler as an option,” explained Studer.

The facility is divided into four main sections: a kids’ area, an administration area, the main sanctuary, and an open gathering area. Future plans call for the sanctuary to ultimately become a fellowship hall or gymnasium, and a new sanctuary will be built as part of the expansion.

“We were able to produce the shell of the facility at about a 15 percent reduction in cost from the conventional style,” said Studer.

And the versatile Widespan structural system helped to divide the interior space, while also maximizing the functionality within each section.

“Through the whole process, we explained to the church’s leadership group how the Butler systems could, with a little bit of tweaking, come up with the same footprint at a reduced cost,” he continued.

According to Studer, the cost savings provided by the Butler systems also enabled his firm to incorporate more design elements inside the building itself.

“It allowed us to incorporate some stone, decorative concrete, and millwork, as well as finishing out a stage and adding a sound system,” he said.

Creating highly functional interior space was clearly the primary goal of construction. But naturally, both Kinghorn and Riverwood wanted to maintain the aesthetic beauty of the facility as well. Again, the Butler system didn’t disappoint.

Kinghorn used the TextureWall panel wall system to create an attractive stucco-like appearance on the building’s exterior. Its durable construction will also provide years of low-maintenance performance for the church.

Additionally, the VSR II architectural roof system was used to create the dramatic roofline that distinguishes the building.

The roof features a shed-style design that reaches a height of 30 feet and slants down to around 24 feet. On the front of the building, a curtain wall of windows provides “the most unbelievable sunsets,” as Pastor Robinson describes.

The construction process itself went very smoothly, despite the fact that it was done during the wintertime in Minnesota. Remarkably, the ground didn’t freeze once during the season. 

Pastor Robinson also credits Riverwood’s construction partner for contributing to the efficiency of the building process.

Welcome home
Looking back on the entire process, Pastor Robinson is now sold on Butler buildings as an ideal construction method — and so are the church’s members.

“One of the comments that we keep hearing over and over is that this place is so inviting,” said Robinson.

The new church has certainly fulfilled Riverwood’s mission to extend its outreach programs and provide a comfortable place for its members to worship. And the fact that it was accomplished despite the hurdles faced on the project gives Pastor Robinson a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.

“I feel responsible for every dollar that is spent on this building, and I want it to be spent to the maximum possible benefit—for the benefit of the congregation and also for the glory of God. And so, it’s huge to me to use money as wisely as possible. And I’m really glad that our church made the choice to go in this direction,” he said.

Butler Manufacturing provides a comprehensive combination of design-build construction solutions and innovative building technology to the nonresidential market. Every Butler building solution is backed by unrivaled research and testing, ensuring that Butler building systems perform to the highest standards. Through a network of more than 1,400 Butler Builder dealers worldwide, Butler addresses the demand for environmentally friendly and energy-efficient design in community, commercial and industrial buildings. Butler is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., and is a division of BlueScope Buildings North America, Inc. For more information, visit www.butlermfg.com.

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Religious Product News