North Star United Methodist Church, Kansas City, Missouri

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Description: North Star United Methodist Church is a thriving new church in a developing suburb of Kansas City. Having been meeting in an elementary school for several years, they engaged Piper-Wind Architects to assist in the site selection, programming, master planning, design and development of the new facility over a period of several years. Upon the completion of programming and site selection, North Star purchased approximately 30 acres in a rapidly developing Kansas City suburban area of an abandoned farm. Since the site was part of previously approved planned development, PWA's next task was to prepare the necessary site plans and facilitate the City review and approval of an amendment to the seller's Community Unit Plan.

The resultant site plan placed the church on the high side of the site (similar to the old barn and homestead location) - prominent to the adjacent roadways and anticipating its use as a community anchor. And, taking advantage of the existing flow of water across the site while re-establishing some existing farm ponds and creek-beds as natural landscape features, Piper-Wind was able to incorporate best practices in sustainable storm water management in the design of the site.

The first building phase consisted of a flexible use worship space, a central meeting/entrance hall, education rooms, administrative functions, as well as a variety of support functions, totaling approximately 16,500 square feet. Additional site needs included 225 car parking spaces, recreational fields, and a variety of outdoor gathering/worship spaces. Future phases are to include a larger indoor worship space, additional classrooms, a recreational hall, administration space, and related support functions - large enough for a congregation of between 3,000 and 4,000 people.

Critical to the planning of the facility, was the need to create spaces that can serve a variety of functions, a building that could be expanded efficiently over time, and a complex of clustered buildings which were sensitive to the site and its management of natural resources. In addition, the building design was to be compatible to the neighborhood growing up around it, be welcoming, be apparent to the passer-by as a church while still be readily identified as contemporary. Acoustics, natural lighting, views, circulation as places to meet and greet, sightlines and proximity in the worship space for the congregant to the celebrant were key elements in the design.