Due to a growing member population and an increase in support programs, Grace Bible Church had outgrown their existing facility. Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the existing building had two disconnected entries with insufficient support space for members to engage beyond a destination-based experience. To sustain growth and unify disparate parts of the church, Grace Bible Church implemented a phased expansion which started with a 2,800 sf addition that would provide new entrances and a communal gallery space for the congregation while enhancing the building’s street presence along Maple Road.
The addition takes the form of a continuous gallery, bridging the disconnected entrances of the existing church. Its open plan is wrapped with clear and etched glazing, maintaining openness to the surrounding courtyards and adjacent woods, while hiding the view of the parking lot in front of the building. These expanses of glazing provide large amounts of direct and indirect natural daylight to penetrate the entire gallery. At night, this creates a warm glowing lantern of translucent glass that can be seen from Maple Road.
Another key feature in this project is our use of Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT). As the first installation of CLT in Michigan, this mass timber combines the roof deck and finished ceiling within one product, dramatically reducing its installation time. In addition to speed and minimized waste, CLT offers numerous environmental advantages, both as a renewable resource and as a material that carries a much lighter carbon footprint than steel and concrete. Also, the biophilic design mirrors the building’s natural environment and brings nature indoors.