Overcoming COVID-19: What’s Next for Church Design

Category: Church

Written By: Ben Consolver

Date: May 10, 2021

Life has changed drastically since the onset of COVID-19. The pandemic continues to affect how people go about their lives, including how they connect spiritually through their church. Nick Cooper, a Client Manager with Parkhill, helps church clients in numerous ways, including finding ways to communicate with their church community despite divisions like the pandemic.

Gateway Church plans to implement many of these flexible solutions for their new and innovative 370,000 SF Southlake Campus. As the largest church project in American history, Gateway Southlake will include an outdoor space with an LED screen, restaurants, a workout facility, and venues of various sizes.


Client Relations

“Client relations have become paramount,” said Cooper, and clear, direct communication is more critical than ever.

Parkhill strives to provide a client experience that makes visions a reality. The church is the people, and Parkhill innovates by designing versatile options, such as outdoor gathering spaces and hybrid services, to make the experience meaningful for their congregations.

To deliver the Gateway project, Parkhill is using the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) method. Designers, subconsultants, technical specialists, and the contractor work as one firm in this method, which provides the client and design team with increased coordination.


Outdoor Options

Incorporating outdoor spaces where the church can meet and video/audio studios to record online services contributes to the church's success. Cooper is seeing a trend where multiple clients and churches will develop “outdoor gathering spaces, so if they ever need to shut down again, they can meet socially distanced.”

Outdoor spaces offer a comfortable setting for people who want the “in-person experience” but would feel safer and more comfortable in an open-air environment. Parkhill can make outdoor spaces comfortable by having misters and heaters, so regardless of weather conditions, people can enjoy the outdoor setting. Outdoor gathering spaces provide churches with an alternative option if they cannot meet indoors, setting them up for a secure future.

Parkhill is providing the ultimate experience for the Gateway Southlake community by implementing restaurants, an expansive outdoor lawn, and a huge LED screen outside that people can enjoy with their families.


Hybrid Experience

According to pewresearch.org, 18% of all adults began watching online services for the first time during the pandemic. Parkhill helps church clients broaden their online reach by providing them with studios to record or live stream high-quality services. Installing cameras around the sanctuary is another way to help people watching from home feel immersed in the church experience.

“We can accommodate people from their living rooms. We want everyone to feel like they’re a part of the experience,” said Cooper.

The pandemic has caused a need for flexibility and versatility. As vaccines become more readily available and social distancing becomes less of a concern, Parkhill provides clients with the tools to build successful futures. Illnesses and natural disasters are parts of life that hybrid options can alleviate, allowing churches to better serve their congregation.

Gateway can also accommodate a hybrid experience. The Southlake campus will include a TV studio with 400 seats that can be used for podcasts, talk shows, live events, and more.


Looking Forward

Parkhill is preparing its church clients for the future with innovative and versatile options so they may use lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic to serve their church members in new ways.



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