By Emily Matchey
Cross Lutheran Church of Roberts, Wisconsin, held a dedication service on Sunday, December 17, 2017, for a renovation and new addition to their facility. This celebration was fantastic and meaningful for many, particularly for architect Tim Peterson of Peterson Design Studio and Bill Derrick of Derrick Building Solutions. Cross Lutheran worked with the duo in 1991 on what was the very first Design-Build commercial project for Derrick Companies at the time. The same team brought the project full circle with this 2017 expansion project.
According to Bill Derrick, in 1991, Derrick Companies had done a significant number of commercial projects, but they had not taken on a Design-Build project prior to this one. Design-Build, or sometimes referred to as a partnering approach, simply means a client chooses to work with a contractor who is the single source responsible for the design and construction of the facility instead of having separate contracts with the architect and builder. The term Design-Build refers to the process as opposed to Design-Bid-Build. In Design-Build, all parties are involved from the beginning and all working toward one common goal.
When the Cross Lutheran Committee was open to the idea of Design-Build in 1991, Derrick Companies partnered with architect Tim Peterson. Peterson had some experience with this model prior to partnering with Derrick Companies on Cross Lutheran, but it was the first of its kind with Derrick Companies. Since that time, Peterson has worked with Derrick Companies on dozens of projects utilizing this planning and construction model and has been a trusted resource in this partnering model.
Another aspect which makes this project even more meaningful to the team is the fact that it is one of Peterson’s final design projects as he has decided to retire after a wonderful career in architecture. “I’ve always valued what the contractors bring to the team, and I have enjoyed working with the Derricks throughout my career,” he said.
When asked about the original and the current project, he said, “In 1991, the original church was a small facility, and the project was a significant addition that served the congregation well for more than two decades.”
As the congregation had grown over the years, it was determined that the 2017 project needed to include larger Sunday School class areas, offices near the entry for the pastor and church staff, overall entry upgrades, and an expanded kitchen and fellowship hall.
Peterson said, “The design essentially expanded the original facility on three sides, preserving and enhancing the original structure. We were able to make significant improvements that should make Cross Lutheran ready for the next decade and beyond.”
“From the Derrick Building Solutions perspective, this project is another example of integrity building strong relationships with our partners and our clients,” said Bill Derrick. “We have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Tim Peterson over the years and with many of our previous clients, such as Cross Lutheran. It is very gratifying to see a project like this come full circle since the initial project 26 years ago.”
Jordan Johnson of Derrick Building Solutions served as the project manager on the Cross Lutheran expansion project and he worked closely with Dave Peterson, chairman of the building committee, and Steve Smart, president of the church council during the project.
“Working with Cross Lutheran was a terrific experience for me and for Derrick Building Solutions,” Johnson said. “This congregation was very thoughtful in their preparation and formalizing their priorities, needs, and wants for their facility expansion. They told us space was needed for Sunday School, gathering and kitchen facilities, offices, and entry improvements. When we visited this church and attended a service for observation, it was clear that their needs were well-defined. Although the project was significant, essentially enveloping their original facility, we were able to keep their sanctuary open throughout the duration of the project. Congregation members were very involved and interested in the project and they enjoyed seeing the progress each week.”
Dan Campeau, project superintendent for Derrick Building Solutions, added, “We really enjoyed working with Cross Lutheran. Great communication was one of the keys to success in this project. They understood what we needed to do to complete the project. We understood what they needed throughout the process to keep the facility safely open for weekend services and weekday events throughout the duration of construction.”
There were many instances in which Cross Lutheran members pitched in to help with everything from interior painting, to donating new building supplies, and even some anonymous donors through the project who helped add some of the “extras” to the project right away.
One of those “extras” that didn’t make the original budget was a fireplace in a renovated Fireside Room in a former Sunday School area. Originally, the plan called for a rough-in for a future fireplace, but an anonymous congregation member donated the funds to purchase the fireplace right away. Another member of the church volunteered to do all the stone work and finish work, which included a very special mantel piece.
Through fortunate connections, the mantel was crafted from a 100+ year old timber from the razed Peace Lutheran Church in Baldwin, Wisconsin, a neighboring community. A member of Cross Lutheran had received some timber from that historic church and donated the 1905 timber for this special purpose. This hearth has proven, already, to be an impactful space. The fireplace is the focal point for all who enter and it provides a warm and wonderful welcome to Cross Lutheran Church.
When asked about the expansion and renovation project, Smart said, “It has been amazing to see how people in our congregation and in our community stepped up to support this vision and this project. This project was a true church project and example of working together. We have been blessed with excellent leadership and support from the community at large.”
When asked what advice he might give other congregations, Smart stressed the work that was done up front in formally gathering input from the congregation and creating a spirit of unity from the very beginning was the reason for their success in this project and as a congregation. He credits all the volunteers and particularly the building committee chairmen and the pastor for the time and talents they brought to the project.
Smart expanded upon the process of choosing a contractor, saying, “We had worked with Derrick on our very successful 1991 expansion, and we had a very favorable experience with the firm. Our team, and the original chairman of the building committee, in particular, spent a significant amount of time in due diligence interviewing several firms and obtaining proposals. When that process was completed, Derrick Building Solutions was our clear choice in terms of experience, capabilities, the proposed solutions, and costs.”
He added, “Derrick Building Solutions was terrific to work with on this project, as was Tim Peterson, our architect. Derrick provided a safe way for our members to observe the progress each week, and that was an exciting perk for all ages. They went the extra mile to ensure we had the use of parts of our facility while so much was actively under construction.”
The expansion project at Cross Lutheran in its small community has helped the church increase its exposure to area residents. Pastor Durk Peterson of Cross Lutheran said, “I believe the architecture of the space shapes the church’s personality. Our recent building program has attracted new members, as well as new community groups to engage with our congregation and our facilities in a welcoming environment. There is a need in our area for a welcoming community space and our congregation is providing that through this project.”
When asked what has made this project a success, Pastor Peterson added, “We were blessed with exceptionally talented and competent individuals in leadership roles who devoted much time and energy into this project. They helped make our facilities an outward expression of what our congregation is all about.”
For more information about Derrick Building Solutions, visit www.derrickbuildingsolutions.com.
Tips from Cross Lutheran Congregation
- Listen. Formalize a listening process to gather input from your congregation and community. When your members become owners, they rally together to do amazing things.
- Honor and recognize past attempts. Most projects do not move forward on the first attempt, or even the second. Be sure to honor the ideas and efforts of prior attempts, which built the momentum for the current successful project.
- Clarify reason for building. With a clear purpose, your project builds unity during all phases of the project from planning, executing, and celebrating the completed space.
- Build excitement in your congregation. While our group didn’t need organized encouragement, we generated lots of help and interest throughout the duration of the project. Members donated labor, new building supplies, thoughtful ideas, and even a few anonymous donors to grant a few wishes during the project.
- Spend time planning. Before any proposal was requested or any ground was broken, our congregation’s building committee spent a significant amount of time discussing ideas and evaluating aspects that would best serve our congregation, our community, and expand our outreach into the community. The time spent collaborating on our needs, wants, and wishes upfront helped us prioritize our project and end with an upgraded facility that everyone is excited about.
- Navigate inevitable bumps in the road with calm, competent leadership. In our case, this entailed extension of municipal wastewater to our site. What we expected would be a quick and easy process ended up delaying our project about six weeks and introducing our congregation to development agreements, right of way regulations, easements, and other legal terminology we weren’t planning for initially. Our calm, competent leadership solved problems without drama.
- Be very good stewards of finances. One important aspect of a building project is having one or more leaders focus their efforts on overseeing the financials on the project to ensure that the committee is acting as good stewards of the congregation’s investment in a facility upgrade.