Permeable Paver - A Great Idea That Doesn’t Exist Anymore

November 4, 2020 by: Ben Heimsath

This discovery started with a simple, seemingly innocent question, “why not use a permeable paver to deal with poor drainage?” Months later, following many unfruitful searches, I can pretty confidently say the answer is simple: there once was a permeable paver, also called drainable paver on the market, but it no longer exists. I got the question from our client, a school district project manager ... Read More

Sustainable Deisgn

Sacred Landscape for Outdoor Worship Takes Planning

September 23, 2020 by: Ben Heimsath

On a sunny morning in early August, I joined the Shepherd of the Hills congregation as they celebrated Sunday worship outdoors. Like many congregations, we weren’t inside the newly renovated sanctuary due to Covid concerns. But the key to the success of this outdoor gathering was several years in the making. Careful planning and creative design transformed an underutilized courtyard into a ... Read More

View from the Pew…err…Couch! Attending Church Virtually

April 11, 2020 by: Ben Heimsath

Each morning, for the past four Sundays, I have made preparations for attending church. I toss on jeans and a t-shirt, slip on house shoes, grab a cup of coffee, and settle down comfortably in front of my computer. As the top of the hour approaches, I pull up Facebook or one of several streaming platforms and join an on-line worship service. In normal times, our firm’s specialty in church ... Read More

Worship Space / Religious / Church Change / Austin Churches

Planning Ahead for Construction Disruption The Role of the Transition Committee

August 24, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

When a congregation or non-profit group is considering a building program of any size, it’s easy to overlook a range of issues that aren’t directly part of construction, but will likely occur before, during, and even after. These frustrating details have to do with all the disruptions caused by construction activity. Where will groups meet? Will they need help to move out or move in? Who will ... Read More

Design Process / Building Committee

Adaptive Reuse: From Church to Cabaret in Canada

January 6, 2015 by: Ben Heimsath

When several communities north of Montreal were merged in 2005, an unused church building, formerly known as Sacré-Coeur-de-Jésus (Sacred Heart of Jesus) became the property of the new township. A straightforward adaptive reuse program kept the exterior of the old church, while on the inside, the old Sacred Heart was transformed into a musical theater venue. The new village of Mont Tremblant ... Read More

Adaptive Re-use / Historic Preservation

Adaptive Reuse: Church Converts to Bakery

September 10, 2014 by: Ben Heimsath

Save the churches! No, this isn’t a blog about threats to religion or a particular denomination; it’s about the buildings we use for worship. Many churches, temples, and religious buildings are at risk. I blogged last year about the growing threat to historic worship spaces. As congregation members are aging and as populations are moving, many old churches are suffering from neglect and are ... Read More

Adaptive Re-use

Church Reuse is a Magic Carpet Ride

April 21, 2014 by: Ben Heimsath

If you don't already know of one, there's a good chance you'll be seeing an abandoned church sometime soon.  Last year, I noted that experts in historic preservation convened a conference in New York to begin examining this growing phenomenon.  Many older cities, experiencing population declines, have become painfully aware of the loss of their major landmarks.  As congregations either move away ... Read More

Worship Space / Sacred Architecture / Adaptive Re-use / Historic Preservation

Is Demolition OK? – Six Essential Questions

March 14, 2014 by: Ben Heimsath

Before you demolish an older building, remember, the decision is final.  Whatever value, history or opportunity for reuse that might have been possible will be gone forever!  Our firm has long been associated with historic preservation and creative re-use of older buildings, so it may seem surprising that this blogpost is about tearing buildings down.  I served for five years on Austin’s Historic ... Read More

Adaptive Re-use / Building Codes / Sustainable Deisgn / Historic Preservation

Chapel of the Holy Cross Proves Architectural Ideas Take Time

December 11, 2013 by: Ben Heimsath

How did an unrealized design concept for an urban cathedral eventually give rise to a desert chapel?  Some architectural ideas take a long time to develop, but this one really took some interesting twists and turns. This fall, I visited the Never Built:  Los Angeles show at the A+D Architecture & Design museum in Los Angeles.  I was surprised to discover an early, though vastly different, ... Read More

Worship Space / Sacred Architecture / Church Design & Construction / Modern Architecture / Architects and Construction / Design Process

Architectural Design Process Shared - Faith & Form Article

December 2, 2013 by: Ben Heimsath

The national journal, Faith & Form, published Ben Heimsath's article "A Shared Process of Creation."  He wrote about the architectural design process as a collaborative venture.  A design created in a truly shared process has the potential to express a unique sense of spirituality.  The journal does not post on-line, so the editor has given us permission to copy the published article for ... Read More

Worship Space / Church Design & Construction / Architects and Construction / Design Process / Building Committee / Master Plan