Willow Creek North Shore
AS+GG has designed the new Willow Creek North Shore, now open at the Glen, in Glenview, Illinois.
The 72,000 square-foot Willow Creek North Shore features a large 1200-seat state-of-the-art auditorium in the center of the facility with administration offices, adult ministry spaces, educational classrooms for all ages, a café, and a large sky-lit preassembly area surrounding the main sanctuary. There are also several gathering points throughout the building. Two landscaped, elliptical-shaped courtyards bring natural light into the sanctuary and the corridors that access classroom and office facilities.
Local construction group Glenn H. Johnson began construction in June 2015. Several months were dedicated to site works that elevated the church by 5-8 feet from its original grade, creating a gentle plateau with views of the surrounding community. A large retention pond was also constructed near the entrance of Shermer Road, as well as surface parking for over 700 vehicles, and access drives to and from the site.
The new church is accessed by two main entrances, each arriving into a spacious pre-function lobby, making the facility easy to navigate and less intimidating for new visitors. It was critical to the design that the building established a welcoming feeling and a clear diagram that understandable for both the first-time visitor as well as those who attend on a regular basis. It was important that the gentle curve of the circulation paths allow occupants to flow through the space while enjoying views of the outside.
The use of natural light was imperative to the success of the design. Floor-to-ceiling windows that face out toward the campus and inward to the intimate courtyard, provide views and daylighting to most of the spaces. The building faces directly south, with a 15’ deep aluminum sunshade that protects the front of the building façade from direct sunlight.
A youth group worship room, located at the north end of the building and facing opposite to the auditorium, will strengthen youth ministry activities, while the Harvest Café, located in front of the auditorium, will be used for more casual meetings and as a gathering space on Sundays for those who wish to watch the service on video screens. The café will have direct access to two landscaped courtyards that can be used for weddings, funerals, and other functions.
The overall building design was inspired by the form of a mustard seed, a biblical reference that symbolizes the strong faith and fellowship of the congregation, as well as the connection of the building to nature. The building’s elliptical shape was designed to strategically bring the experience of the outdoors, inside to the occupants.
Flexibility was also key in the design. For instance, administration offices will be used by the church’s dedicated staff Monday through Friday but will be available on the weekend for adult ministry services and can provide additional opportunities for classes, workshops, and fundraising activities.
Willow Creek North Shore is an innovative architectural landmark for the Village of Glenview and will form an important place of community for its residents for years to come.