|Sacred site planning
Graduate A&M architecture students assist
Corinth church, city in site plan development
In spring 2004 graduate students from the Texas A&M College of
Architecture collaborated with representatives from the city of
Corinth, Texas and members of the Community Presbyterian Church
of Corinth in a two-day charrette aimed at developing a comprehensive
site plan for the church. The multidisciplinary team included
students from Professor Jody Naderi's landscape architecture studio
and Professor Phillip Tabb's architecture studio.
“A charrette is an intensive design process, which in this case
involved all project stakeholders at the beginning of what will
become a comprehensive site plan for Community Presbyterian’s
new church sanctuary,” explained Jody Naderi, assistant professor
in A&M’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning.
“The process significantly benefits not only the congregation,
but to the wider community of Corinth whose residents and civic
leaders gain from the aesthetic influence of purposeful design
in the overall development of this site.”
Tabb, who has a special interest in sacred architecture, has
served as a consultant to the church’s “Building for The Future”
“In realizing the full potential of this highly visible site,
our challenge was to create an appropriate civic image that allows
both intimacy and sacred placemaking,” said Tabb. “The church
community provided our master’s students with a valuable career-building
opportunity. Their job was to listen and respond as design professionals
who must balance the zoning, civic, aesthetic and spiritual needs
of all parties involved.”
To prepare for the project the students surveyed the church site,
surrounding residential developments and Corinth Community Park.
They also attended presentations by city officials and familiarized
themselves with land development requirements. The two-day charrette
culminated with a student presentation to city officials and the
church’s building team at Corinth’s City Hall. The students offered
five distinct site renderings that detailed land utilization,
water retention, aesthetics and spiritual interpretations.
“On the city planning level, we’re building for the future of
Corinth and the aesthetic character of the new church sanctuary
is among our concerns,” said Karen Gandy, planning and economic
development director for the city. “We are flattered and delighted
with the prestige and talent the team from Texas A&M has provided.
They’re eager to work in partnership with the city to enhance
surrounding property values while remaining sensitive to the needs
of the congregation.”
During the charrette, Ken Seale, Corinth city manager, advised
students on the city’s role in the multi-phase church site development.
“We want to make city services more effective for community groups
who are serving the citizens of Corinth,” said Seale. “With each
development phase, the city manager’s office will be available
as a resource to help the A&M design team make the best use of
Paul Leslie, Corinth’s director of community services also assisted
the students, fielding questions about city codes, exterior building
and masonry requirements, the sidewalks and the adjoining residential
and business districts.
“We were so impressed with the A&M design team’s sensitivity to
the requirements of the city and our congregation’s mission,”
said Linda Whitworth-Reed, director of spiritual development for
the Community Presbyterian Church and chair of the Building for
the Future team. Whitworth-Reed organized and led the intensive
two-day session, coordinating transportation, lodging, meeting
sites and hosting a dinner at a local Italian restaurant.
“The students captured the essence of our needs and desires,”
she said, “reflecting the journey of hope, transformation and
peace that a spirit-filled life has to offer.”
“A church is not a building,” said David Reed, organizing pastor
of the church. “Churches are people in relationship with God and
each other. Our congregation’s mission is to nurture and equip
each other to share the transforming love and grace of Jesus Christ
with our community. Ultimately, the site plan will be defined
by that mission.”
Phase One of the site development plan is intended for completion
by September 2005.
Community Presbyterian Church of Corinth is a new church development
of Grace Presbytery, a governing body of the Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.). The region includes 53 counties in northeast and central
Texas, where there are 48,500 members worshipping in 185 congregations
and fellowship groups. The Presbytery interconnects and supports
the ministers and congregations in this region, building mission
partnerships and leadership networks locally and around the world.