Magazine article USA TODAY

Divine Intervention: Church Construction Trends Impacting the Commercial Building Sector

Magazine article USA TODAY

Divine Intervention: Church Construction Trends Impacting the Commercial Building Sector

Article excerpt

LOOK INTO WHAT is spurring the bustling church building sector and you will uncover trends and advancements that are disrupting the status quo and prompting exciting growth not only in this specialized space, but those impacting other facility construction verticals like medical, education, and retail. What follows is a glimpse at six key game changing church and commercial construction trends:

Chic community-centric campuses. Church architecture has changed dramatically over the past 15 years, from the sterile brick, white window, and a steeple look to what have become hip, state-of-the-art facilities, often with multiple structures, which have become "cool" communal hangouts. With a focus on the Starbucks-type experience, churches today are designing and building in social spaces like coffee shops, fitness centers--with fully loaded gyms and even recreational facilities with rock climbing walls, basketball courts, skateboarding areas, kids clubs--and the like. A great number of churches today also have theater-like qualities, boasting impressively scaled auditoriums with high ceilings and permanent stages that are used during services and other times when entertainment is in order. Large projection screens display written song lyrics to help churchgoers sing along, and captivating audio and lighting capabilities amp up the experience even further--literally and figuratively.

Modern material advancements. While concrete has been around for thousands of years, there are several exciting technological advancements improving this material in new and exciting ways. For starters, there now are multifunctional mineral additives available that create a much more stable and uniform concrete mix, resulting in reduced segregation and settling. Not only does this facilitate rapid construction, improving pumpability and workability, it is environmentally friendly and easy to use. Regarding concrete itself, researchers at Purdue University currently are working with nanotechnology to create a concrete that is much stronger than the traditional type--but using much less material. Small-scale tests reportedly have been successful, and it only is a matter of time before this technologically advanced concrete significantly impacts and enhances the construction landscape at large.

Architectural approaches. While the use of 3D printing to create interior and exterior models for client review now is commonplace, emerging 3D printing technology is promising early unlimited potential in both the residential and commercial construction sectors. Several cutting-edge projects in Amsterdam, China, and the United Arab Emirates are proof positive. For instance, a first "printed" structure currently is under construction in UAE, using a 20-foot-high printer. It is slated for completion in 2017 and will be home to Dubai's Museum of the Future. What sets this project apart from others is it is being built on-site rather than piecemeal off-site. Also, the walls and exterior are not the only elements being "printed" in three dimensions. The interiors and furniture are to be "printed" as well. This type of construction approach will lower cost and waste, as well as blow design possibilities wide open.

Data-driven decisionmaking. Construction projects are predicated on a bottom line. Numbers are the name of the game and, today, there is much economic analysis being undertaken well in advance of breaking ground to determine--and downright assure--the project. …

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