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University Christian Church
By: Jennifer Walker-Journey

 University Christian Church in Muncie, Indiana, recognized the strong potential for growth in the community that is also home to Ball State University. There were many needs, but in order to satisfy all of them, church leadership knew they had to have a good plan to work from.

At the time, University Christian Church held services and all other activities in a 12,000-square-foot facility. A larger sanctuary was needed, but church leadership also wanted more space for fellowship, and a gymnasium for its rather active membership. Building separate facilities for each of these needs would cost far more than the church was able to manage.

Instead of separate buildings for worship and fellowship, the church decided to build a large multipurpose space that would serve as a gymnasium for basketball and volleyball games, a gathering area for fellowship, and a sanctuary for worship services. To keep costs down, the church also decided to build half the building immediately and the other half when more funds became available.

The church hired architect Stephen Akers and builder Darren Day to manage the design and construction management process.

 “The first phase, which was built in 2008, was more of a half gym that also served as their fellowship hall, a small foyer/commons area, a kitchen, and bathrooms,” says Day with Day Construction Management in Crawfordsville, Indiana. 

That addition added about 5,700 square feet to the facility. About five years later, the church was ready to tackle the second phase of the project, which extended the gymnasium to regulation size, thus increasing the worship seating capacity to about 350 and banquet seating capacity to about 400.  The expansion also includes a baptistery, dressing rooms, restroom, and large storage rooms, which will hold chairs and tables when the main room is used for sports or other activities.
The foyer commons was also expanded and two classrooms were added. The addition will add an additional 7,300 square feet to the building, making it about 25,000 square feet. The addition also included a large, new covered drive-under canopy of about 1,500 square feet. Finally, the original building will be renovated to make room for youth activities.

Even though adding the second half of the gymnasium was in the plans all along, doubling that space was a structural feat to say the least. Materials on the exterior were designed to match the current facility.

Since the multipurpose space would have to serve several rather diverse needs, designers had to look at the facility from each perspective. To serve the gymnasium, the floor was constructed with vinyl tile with court lines to serve basketball and volleyball, and recessed volleyball standards in the floor.

To serve the worship center, a stage was added with a forestage that could rotate under the main stage when not in use. Two screens were placed on either side of the stage with two television monitors on the stage. The space was also designed with no windows for more of an amphitheater effect.

Lighting and sound consultants were hired to make sure the space met the needs for all its purposes. Multiple lighting systems were installed. For example, fluorescent lighting was used for basketball games but LED dimmable can lights were installed for worship services. In addition, theatrical lighting was also added.  Sound consultants hung acoustical panels, called Lapendary panels, from the ceiling to reduce reverberation time and sound intensity. This allows increased speech intelligibility, better communication and improved quality of sound systems especially in multi-functional spaces.

To help hold down costs, the church recruited a large group of volunteers and arranged for one to serve as the group’s leader scheduling members to work days as needed.

Day Construction Management, LLC, based in Crawfordsville, Indiana, offers full design and construction services, www.DayChurchbuilders.com.

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