Medicine Hat, Alberta

The Temple Baptist Church had seen substantial growth and was limited on a site that was inadequate to accommodate expansion. The church had a vision for a gymnasium & a new sanctuary, and the only way to achieve this growth was to either expand the site or discover a creative solution. In close collaboration with the members of the church and the board chairman at that time, Henry Strauss, an opportunity that involved placing the gymnasium below the sanctuary was conceived. This provided a difficult structural solution since it was putting a wide-open space with long spans underneath the sanctuary which required equally long spans. In collaboration with Cochrane Engineering, a very deep structural system, almost seven feet in depth, was implemented under the new building.

The problem was further exacerbated by a site that was almost entirely sand to a great depth. The new excavation for the new gymnasium, which required a twenty-seven-foot ceiling plus the additional seven-foot depth of structure that required to span, meant that the gymnasium floor would be far below the lower level of the existing church.  In order to combat the potential for the sand running out like an hourglass out from under the existing church foundation, three-foot diameter solider piles were installed along the existing church wall.  The result was a relatively costly structural solution which was still substantially less than the purchase of the land to expand the church.

In order to achieve a successful sanctuary in a limited footprint, a balcony was designed to wrap around the sanctuary and extend down to the main platform on both sides.  This allowed the balcony to be accessed from the main floor, accommodating interactive services, and an ability to effectively engage the balcony environment.