First Baptist Church has opted to use Nashville-based Earl Swensson Associates to handle design work for its proposed multi-building makeover.
Last week, church members unanimously voted to have ESa design what could be various additions to the downtown religious complex that is best recognized for its thrusting steeple sited on Broadway (and seen on the left in this image courtesy of Google Maps). Originally, Dallas-based H.H. Architects crafted a master plan and images (see here) for the church. FBC considered continuing to use HHA, and also reviewed various other design firms, before selecting ESa. The church is not disclosing why it did not continue working with HHA.
“ESa knows Nashville,” said Hugh Sloan, chairman of FBC’s 15-member master plan implementation committee. “We want them to help us build and design a signature facility that meets the needs of both downtown and our ministry.”
Sloan said church officials will determine when on-site work will begin once ESa has finalized a master plan. The church fronts Broadway between Sixth and Seventh avenues, with its back surface parking lot running along Demonbreun Street across from the new Music City Center.
Though FBC and ESa officials have met to discuss various options, Sloan declined to speak in specifics regarding designs.
“Will probably go up instead of out,” he said, emphasizing how the church’s urban setting calls for a design with buildings showing more verticality than the horizontal model often used for suburban religious buildings.
“We’re studying churches in Orlando, Tulsa and Chicago,” he added. “ As urban environments grew up around those churches, they were forced to build up [as opposed to sprawl].”
FBC has not indicated when on-site work might begin. Church officials currently are deciding whether to replace a gymnasium and recreation center that had to be razed following fire damage.
On a related note, Sloan said FBC continues to field calls from entities wanting to buy various parcels now used as church surface parking for hotel development.
“The church has greatly benefitted from our parking lot revenue,” he said. “As Nashville sees increasing demand for hotel rooms, we get calls from hotel developers. But the church has not approved any sale of any property.”
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