The Southminster United Church is a 1913 historic building and the choice of classical concert venues in the City. This project required an elegant washroom renovation appropriate to the high-class events regularly held there and an expansion to the Chancel platform area to accommodate larger music productions. Together with Amy Dodic, Southminster Building Committee Chairperson, Alvin Reinhard Fritz Architect Inc. (ARFAi) decided to design the washrooms with an airport entrance and wood partitions to match the oak so prevalent throughout the historic building. As well, through collaboration, it was determined that automatic lighting and music were entirely feasible and it was readily incorporated. Full-length mirrors were installed in the women’s washroom for the formally dressed clients that enjoy gala affairs at this venue.
The project ultimately extended to the sanctuary as well were substantive changes were necessary to accommodate an expanded orchestra. The platform was extended and the rear wall of the sanctuary replaced. This wall, renovated in the 1970s, was out of character with the historic oak finishes. ARFAi had the previously applied plastic scrim on the wall replaced with dark oak, and carefully selected transparent acoustical fabric for the Chancel wall.
One highlight of the design allowed the client to conceal the organ by lowering it into the stage floor when the organ would be undesirable on the platform. This was engineered by Simon Hann, one of the Building Committee members. The end result was an upgrade worthy of the historic structure of the Southminster United Church.
While it is a relatively small project, it demonstrates that Alvin Reinhard Fritz Architect Inc. pays careful attention to detail regardless of the size of the renovation or the relative utilitarian nature of the space.