Installation Profile: New Life, New Sanctuary
Jul 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Trevor Boyer
A church's construction became an opportunity to integrate a new all-digital audiovisual system.
There was always room for expansion on the campus of New Life Church, a nondenominational congregation based in Louisville, Ky. Building its original sanctuary in 1984, New Life deliberately positioned the first building back from the road in order to leave room for future additions.
New Life indeed grew larger. By 2004, the sanctuary's 340-seat capacity was no longer large enough to hold the entire Sunday crowd all at one time, so the church was running multiple services. It was time to make use of the space that had been set aside.
In 2005, Paul Parish, the administrative pastor at the church who also handles the audiovisual aspects of the ministry, started talking to AV integration firm PSG Systems in Louisville. The architectural plan was to construct a new sanctuary that would be attached to the existing structure. The original 340-seat main sanctuary would be repurposed, and new classrooms would be carved out of its wings. The remaining space in the original sanctuary was to become a multipurpose room, and the church would continue to use the space's existing projector, loudspeakers, and 32-channel analog Soundcraft mixing console.
This meant that the new sanctuary demanded a completely new audiovisual and lighting system. New Life Church plays video content every week and about 40 minutes of music during a typical service, so Parish needed to get it right for the congregation. Over the course of the next two years, Parish worked directly with PSG Systems — rather than through the general contractor, who could then subcontract out the AV and lighting — to ensure an optimal system for the church's reopening in August 2007.
The new sanctuary was designed to seat 925. New Life, which attracts about 550-600 people on a typical Sunday, again left itself considerable room for growth. The architects had designed the new building with no parallel walls. “Everything is curved or slanted,” Parish says. “The floor is sloped like a theater. The ceiling is sloped opposite of that. It not only slopes up, but slopes on an angle on both sides.”
Plans changed during the design process. Although the design for the main sanctuary was not affected, the plans for other new rooms would be. The requirement for sufficient parking meant that a secondary chapel had to shrink and the number of additional rooms, such as cry rooms, was reduced.
As the building design changed, so did the AV system design. “There had been a preliminary AV system design before we got involved,” says Jonathan Noffke, project manager for PSG Systems. “And then by the time the final design had been approved, it had changed entirely. It wasn't a bid situation; it was more of a design/build relationship that started.”
In 2006, the AV system design discussion began in earnest. Ground broke on the new sanctuary construction in spring 2006. PSG Systems had to keep close tabs on the construction process to know if the company had to change its audiovisual plans. “During that entire period, I was at weekly or biweekly construction meetings,” Noffke says. “We had to be able to step in and say, ‘If you do this, it means this for the AV system.’”
For a smaller cry room and a smaller chapel than was initially planned, for example, PSG and the church decided to downsize the displays from projectors to 50in. plasmas and then finally to 42in. Sony FWD-42PX screens.
Minor architectural details changed somewhat late in the process, as well. New Life and the architects decided to install a wing-shaped object to mask the lightbar in the sanctuary so that the congregation wouldn't see the backs of the cans that illuminate the stage. This created a challenge for PSG — the team needed to reposition the loudspeakers' throws so they would avoid the architectural feature.
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