Signature Sight & Sound

The importance of technology systems

The master planning process defines and directs the functionality goals. The technology systems are what allow you to achieve those goals.

Remember, when there is any kind of function at the church, some level of technology is going to be used. Technology systems are an integral part of the entire building design — not an afterthought. That is why meeting with a technology firm at the beginning of the process is so important. Not only will the technology firm show you how to achieve your goals, they will also make you aware of the following very important issues:

  • Additional areas you may want to address now or in the future
  • Emerging technologies
  • Infrastructure requirements
  • Design aspects that are required for technical booths and staging
  • Room geometry
  • Support areas
  • Building structure for speakers, projection screens, lights and curtains
  • Production facilities
  • Electrical requirements
  • House light control
  • Acoustical considerations
  • Noise floor issues regarding flooring types, wall surfaces and mechanical systems

Case in point

We met with the senior pastor, executive pastor and administrator of a church that is building a multipurpose space. A conference was planned with the architect and various trades, including our firm, but the architect had already done preliminary drawings prior to this meeting. We wanted to talk with the church before the meeting to understand their vision for this new space and how they see it being used.

As we viewed the drawing, we started the discussion. Their goals were to have a space that would accommodate sporting events, worship, youth events, drama, workshops, dinners, concerts, and community events. They have multiple buildings and a main sanctuary for worship. They also wanted this space to be overflow for the main sanctuary or vice versa. I like this example because it encompasses a great many areas that have to be addressed.

We first asked them to assign a percentage to each of the areas they outlined. As the discussions continued, it was becoming clear that the primary use for the space was not weighted heavily on the sporting side, but more on the presentation side.

Unfortunately, the drawing in front of us was more indicative of a sports facility with some components for presentation. This was revelatory for the pastors and administrator. Their entire mindset changed.

The following items were just a few examples of items in the above scenario that required changing or addressing to meet the actual goals of the master plan:

  • The stage had to be enlarged
  • There were no back stage areas
  • There was no technical booth location
  • A wall section and ceiling structure had to be redesigned
  • There was no structure for curtains or projection screens
  • There was not adequate storage
  • The house lighting was designed only for sporting events (HID)
  • An additional house lighting plan and architectural dimming had to be included
  • The basketball goals needed to portable
  • A decision needed to made about flooring material
  • Cameras needed to be added to capture presentation, theatrical and musical events

It is our job to make sure we have a complete understanding of the master plan, provide the ways and means to achieve the goals and offer alternatives and “what if’s” based on our knowledge and experience. We further must discuss future expansion and growth to ensure the infrastructure is in place.

The above example illustrates the importance not only of technology and how it relates to the overall, but also why it is important to contract with a qualified technology firm prior to the architectural drawing process.