Willow Creek North Shore features a large state-of-the-art auditorium, a smaller “black box” auditorium, admin offices, youth and adult education spaces, a café, and a large sky-lit preassembly area surrounding the main sanctuary. The building was designed to look more like a community center than a typical church because it was important to the client to engage the surrounding community.
The main space is a 1200-seat auditorium that serves church functions and acts as a multifunctional community space for Glenview. Since it’s opening in December 2016, the space has hosted numerous cultural events. The smaller Impact Auditorium was designed for youth culture and is also used by both the church and the community.
It was critical to the client that the building establish a welcoming feeling and clear diagram that was understandable for the first-time visitor and regular attendees. The corridors gently curve allowing visitors to flow through the space while enjoying views of the outside. Two landscaped, elliptical-shaped courtyards bring natural light into the auditorium and the corridors that access classroom and office facilities.
The use of natural light was imperative to the design’s success. Floor-to-ceiling windows face outward to the campus and inward to the intimate courtyards, providing views and daylighting to the interior spaces. Because the building faces directly south a 15’ deep aluminum sunshade was used to protect the front of the building façade from heat gain, while still allowing for natural light.
The interior design of the building is elegant and minimal, with the exposed structure throughout the public spaces that increases the ceiling height, gives a feeling of openness, and is a symbol of sustainability by leaving out any unnecessary materials. A long skylight in the center of the pre-function is designed so that the sun will shine into the space and wash the outside wall of the auditorium with light as people enter before the worship services. The light will bounce differently based upon the time of day, allowing yet another connection to nature for building occupants.
Willow Creek North Shore is currently under review for LEED Certification and meets the energy target of 20% savings versus the ASHRAE baseline on similar buildings.