The Church of St. Helen is a Diocese of Cleveland Congregation residing in the rural township of Newbury. A pastoral setting and quiet is the attraction of new homeowners moving to this Geauga County town. The resulting growth is requiring both public and private schools to expand to meet the growing challenges of the population. St. Helen’s has embarked on a master-planning and expansion program that will permit the growth of their Church and School over the next 10 years. Their current school is in an outdated 1940’s building, and within the next five years their school will grow from 1 class per grade to 2. studioTECHNE has worked with the building committee to plan for the renovation of the existing facilities - upgrading mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, and for an addition which will expand the school to 2 classes per grade, and provide for specialty classrooms including - science, music, life skills, computers, gymnasium and a new library. Additionally, the congregation requires a Life Teen area and a Social Hall for 300. The masterplan takes advantage of the steep topography of the site (changes of up to sixty feet) allowing the building to follow the natural curve of the site and step up into the hill. Classrooms will focus around the courtyard with playgrounds sited adjacent to the new gymnasium. Groundbreaking is scheduled for spring 2004. The first phase of the master plan is the construction of a new 900 seat sanctuary, replacing their current sanctuary which was a converted barn.
Temple Emanu El
Faced with a demographics issue, 75% of its members lived 20 miles away or greater, Temple Emanu El began a search for land on which to construct their new temple. An 11-acre parcel, a former nursery and farm, at the corner of Brainard and Emery roads was selected for the site and the focus then turned to building design. Working with the building committee, and eventually a group of 90 members of the Temple, studioTECHNE formed focus groups to study the need and use specific to how Temple Emanu El worships, studies, and comes together in fellowship. Based on this programmatic data, several conceptual building solutions were presented to the congregation. These solutions centered on Temple Emanu El’s focus on the building’s need to act as a house of worship, house of learning and house of gathering; working with the building committee to refine concepts and ideas led us toward a design that worked to integrate the landscaping (the natural) with the building (the man made). Sited in a residential neighborhood, we modulated the building footprint to keep its mass low and to ensure the building did not overwhelm the adjacent residential structures. Abundant landscaping provides buffering as well as connecting the building’s interior and occupants to nature. The chapel located at the south end of the building is a partially concealed circular form with protective arms encircling it. The arms shade the glass etched with passages from the Torah, but also acts as a metaphor to the ghetto period when temples and synagogues were required to be hidden from sight.
Calvary Lutheran Church
studioTECHNE led the congregation on a comprehensive master planning process designed to analyze the growth opportunities of the facilities as well as solve several basic difficulties the congregation was experiencing. The activities within the buildings were hidden from the street and occurred in the back of current facilities and, the places for fellowship and education were cramped and uninviting. studioTECHNE proposed demolition of portions of the facility and the construction of a new narthex which provided the required fellowship space and was visible from the street. This project will be implemented in phases over the next ten years.
Green Road Synagogue
While working on the preliminary space planning and initial design concepts for this project we asked many questions. When we asked the Abbess what makes a monastery, she replied, “a monastery is a place of serenity to commune with God and nature. A place of permanence not a fortress, a place where people are welcome...are free to be themselves... and explore their relationship to God and its importance to their relationships with others.”
Working with the nuns, we developed a master plan totaling 15,000 square feet of functional spaces and a budget of $3.8 million. Further, the physical reality of the site and the nuns’ aspirations were beginning to define a “place” of peace and prayer in the relationship between the man-made courtyard and the surrounding woods, a worldly street and a heavenly sky, and even a direction towards rebirth along a road that led to the Monastery’s nearby cemetery. In order to ensure the serenity of the place, exterior building materials are natural stone and wood, building forms blend with the rolling hills of the 45 acre site, and the buildings are super insulated and rely on passive means of heating and cooling to maintain comfortable temperatures, and keep the costs of fuel oil and electricity to a minimum.
Church of St. Clare
In 1998 studioTECHNE was hired by the Church of St. Clare to extensively renovate their offices and the residence for the priests. We took an innovative approach to the work providing them more functional spaces without adding to the building’s footprint and accommodating their budget. When it was time to restore and renovate their sanctuary, they again turned to us for help. Years of extensive use had left the sanctuary a dark, dingy relic of the sanctuary many older members remember as being vibrant and alive. We worked with the building committee to develop a list of desired renovations and using their list and their budget, developed a list of priorities for the project. This was a critical step in the work, our timeline was tight and it was important to define the expectations of the committee as well as the congregation. The most important priority for the committee was lighting. The lighting was poor and it was impossible for anyone over 55 to read anything in the sanctuary. The second priority was acoustics and sound. The quality of the sound system had degraded over the years, and between the crackle of the speakers and the acoustic echoes, mass for most parishioners was a garbled mess. The final priority was aesthetics; remove the work of past renovations and restore the altar to its previous glory. Work began after January 6th and was required to be completed for Easter Mass. studioTECHNE directed the re-lamping and replacement of lighting, installation of a new sound system and acoustic panels, restoration of the tabernacle and altar furnishings, and restoration of the wall behind the crucifix. The project was completed on its strict construction schedule and budget and the renovations were complete for mass on Palm Sunday. Our attention to detail, clear and complete documents and ability to communicate clearly with the owner and contractor led to the success of this project.