Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Mankato, MN | Government + Cultural
Church leaders had a goal to make their facility welcoming and open to the public with a more distinguishable street presence. This large facility which houses the church, as well as other social service agencies, a daycare and administrative offices, was previously unnoticeable as it was setback from the street.
Part of the church's vision is to be "…welcoming, open and affirming…"and the congregation wanted the new entrance to reflect this, and in a sense reach out to the community.
Previously, visitors who utilized the main parking area on the South side of the building were greeted with a stark brick wall and had to enter the sanctuary through an office. The renovation completely opened up the south eastern corner of the building creating a whole new entrance, drop off area, and lobby. The office space was reconfigured and expanded, and the entrances and restrooms were modified to be accessible. Gathering space was extended and the church coffee shop, Grounds for Joy was also expanded. Sustainability was important to the congregation and one aspect of the design was to allow maximum daylight to permeate throughout as much of the existing areas of the facility as possible. This included opening up the narthex and other areas.
Church leaders wanted the spaces to be flexible so that changes could be made to best accommodate a variety of needs and uses. Now, many spaces can be configured for community meetings and other events. A dedicated entrance is provided for outside groups that meet during non-business hours. This allows the unused areas of the facility to be secured with lowered energy demands through programmable heating, cooling and lighting systems. An interactive sculpture was brought inside and is on a base and glazed to allow visitors to touch and experience the art. The renovated facility now has a significant street presence that is welcoming and inviting.