Valley Presbyterian Church Sanctuary Renovation
21st century worship
The Sanctuary at Valley Presbyterian Church in Paradise Valley, Arizona, was originally designed in the early 1960s by architect Harold Wagoner, one of the most prolific ecclesiastical architects of the mid-century in the United States. Yet, with an aging and declining congregation, the time had come for the concrete and flagstone Sanctuary to begin a new life adapting to their evolving needs. Acting as a catalyst to revive the church’s campus as a whole, the Sanctuary renovation honors the past while shepherding the church forward into its next fifty years.
Driven to accommodate two very different worship styles, the Sanctuary was reborn using a comprehensive design strategy to support the evolving needs of the congregation. The renovated space hosts both traditional services featuring a full choir and pipe organ, as well as a contemporary service with a worship band including guitars and drums. The space utilizes an array of microphones and speakers distributed throughout the Sanctuary to alter the spatial acoustics to meet the needs of any type of performance.
The interior of the Sanctuary was reimagined to adapt to the existing building shell while increasing seating capacity, improving sight lines, and enhancing the natural and artificial lighting of the interior. Original stained glass windows are accentuated by the billowing white baffles above the seating area and the form of the lightwell focusing on the narrow aperture to the south. Contrasting with the soft white above, a band of wood complementing the existing stone wraps the seating area and forms the backdrop for the stage.
Beyond the Sanctuary, the new choir room is carved out beneath the stained glass lightwell, with a curved ceiling that enhances the acoustics for practicing vocalists. This room looks out to the exterior path that leads visitors under the cantilevered shade structure and into the lobby to connect to the rest of the campus.
The revitalized campus also includes renovated classrooms, a new cafe, and landscaped exterior spaces, each developed to build greater connections between each generation within the congregation.