Body Lawson Elevates Religious Communities with Productive, Mixed-Use Building Projects
Leveraging church real estate holdings to better serve community needs, architecture firm Body Lawson Associates unveils a range of new projects in design and under construction
By: Body Lawson Associates
The Body Lawson Associates projects include Iglesia de Dios Senda de Bendicion in the Bronx, with a church on the ground floor and 43 low-income residential units topped with green roof terraces. The wellness-oriented complex integrates new mixed-use space with a community center and a recreation room, leveraging valuable real estate to fund profitable new developments serving essential community needs, including mixed-use buildings with senior housing, affordable residences, commercial spaces for retailers and other job-creating employers, as well as expanded recreation and social offerings for neighborhoods.
Another example of this approach is Lagree Baptist Church, which is converting a retail and manufacturing building in the Bronx, New York, to encompass a new church along with retail, office and community facilities. The congregation has also adapted an audio-visual room so that church leaders will be able to broadcast services and events in the sanctuary to parishioners that are homebound or unable to visit the church during the pandemic. The new sanctuary, with a sloped floor and a 34-foot clear span, occupies about half of the first floor, adjacent to retail storefront spaces. Above are a fellowship hall and a church offices on the second floor, and rentable office spaces on the third floor, all topped with a planted green roof and a playground. The new facilities, now under construction with completion expected in March 2022, are served by two new elevators and two stairwells, encouraging greater use and healthy activity for churchgoers while energizing the neighborhood.
Versatile Church Campuses
Similar to this revitalizing approach, the leaders of Union Baptist Church reassessed their small, 1929 church building and envisioned upgrades and improvements to more appropriately welcome in a new generation of members. In a multi-phase transformation that included new, ground-up construction, Body Lawson Associates devised a state-of-the art sanctuary to accommodate congregation members in an amphitheater-
This "versatile church campus" featuring a lobby large enough to host events and a congregation hall can be used not only for services but also for meetings, or potentially events or concerts held by outside groups. In the future, Union Baptist Church may rent out this space as an additional income stream, as well. In a second phase, Union Baptist Church will expand further to add a family life center, complete with classrooms and reading rooms, as well as a bookstore and potential café.
Another major transformation is Holy Trinity Baptist Church in Brooklyn, N.Y. Slated for demolition in mid-2022, the existing worship facility will be replaced with an expanded new church integrated with an apartment building above. The church will include a main sanctuary, a fellowship hall where congregants meet, new classrooms, as well as a new video recording studio to support virtual services. Connected to the sanctuary, the production center will allow for recording and broadcasting live services as well. In addition, a multipurpose room next to the lobby can be used for community amenities.
In this way, carefully executed mixed-use expansions of church facilities offers a path to growth, better community offerings, and wider audiences for worship.