Foyer Design

Project Completion: The Summit Church

The McKnight Group Announces Completion of Remodel in Indiana, Pennsylvania.  

Recently completed was the addition of a two-story Children’s and Youth Building in addition to the remodel of existing classrooms into new foyer space.  The new Children’s and Youth Building consists of classrooms, children’s worship space, restrooms, and play area for the children on the first floor, and restrooms, classrooms, and worship space for youth on the second floor. 

The expanded lobby provides more room for the café and a new women’s restroom.  This project cost finished under the original budget and The McKnight Group was able to return those dollars back to The Summit Church for its ministries.

Construction Start:  July 2016
Construction Completion:  April 2017
Remodel: 3,660 SF
New Construction: 12,146 SF First Floor, 5,637 SF Second Floor

Owner: The Summit Church, Indiana, PA
Design/Build Firm: The McKnight Group, Grove City, OH
General Contractor: McKnight Development Corp., Grove City, OH
Architect/Designer: McKnight & Hosterman Architects, Inc., Grove City, OH


2017-07-28T18:00:34+00:00 July 28th, 2017|Budgeting, Church Design, Foyer Design, Press Release, Remodeling|

Does Your Church Facility Meet the Needs of Modern Ministry?

Church buildings that were built for a different era can put a real crimp in your ministry style. No matter how exciting your church vision and how awesome your activities, if your church building doesn’t function, or look like it will function for the people you are trying to reach, you’ll be at a disadvantage to draw those people in. But an innovative church renovation—even of just a small portion of your existing facility—can solve many challenges and update your curb appeal.

Giving an Old Church Building a Facelift

Bridgetown Before Brigdetown After

We’ll use The Bridgetown Church of Christ in Cincinnati, OH as an example that demonstrates a variety of ways a church building can improve through renovations. The Bridgetown church leaders were well aware that their church building was stuck in the 1970s. The swooping roof design and stained glass just didn’t illustrate their modern church vision. And with a congregation that was becoming younger and younger, they knew they needed an updated look.

Our solution was to expand the entryway. We opened up the structure and raised the entire ceiling, adding windows at multiple levels. This allows light to stream into the foyer, making it much more inviting. And now, the interior lights stream out from the building at night and the glow gives a warm, welcoming feel to anyone passing by. The updated façade makes the sanctuary roof seem less imposing by comparison and creates a more holistic look to the entire structure.

Incorporating a Café and Conversation Area

Bridgetown Cafe BeforeAnother important church remodel priority for the leaders at Bridgetown was to incorporate space for fellowship. The previous foyer was cramped, dark and dated. Also, they were “making-do” for their existing café area. They had converted an unused coat closet into a café bar of sorts, but it was essentially just a row of coffee pots on a table—practical, but not very welcoming.

Bridgetown Cafe AfterBy expanding the entire foyer space, we made room for a designated café area that is aesthetically pleasing and functional. The extra room even allows for casual seating and conversation. The natural light flooding in from the new windows makes the café area feel warm and inviting—allowing guests to hang out with church members in comfort and get to know more about Bridgetown Church of Christ.

A portion of the church building’s original stained glass window was repurposed into an eye-catching piece of wall art. It adds a unique touch of style while preserving some of the church’s history for future generations.

Integrating Safety and Spaciousness into this Church Remodel

Another major issue for Bridgetown was their restrooms. There was no men’s facility at all on the upper, worship level—men had to go downstairs to use the restroom. And the single women’s restroom that was on the first level was very small and not accessible for handicapped users. The lack of an elevator between the two floors made things even more inconvenient for handicapped guests and members. With the same expansion of the foyer area, we created room for updated, handicap-accessible restrooms for both men and women. We also added an elevator so that everyone could easily move between both floors of this church building.

Big Changes for a Not-So-Big Budget

A big advantage of a church remodel like the one at Bridgetown Church of Christ, is that major changes were made without the need to remodel the entire church building. As you can see from the before and after photos, we didn’t change much in the worship space. Beyond a new HVAC system, a small extension of the platform, and replacing pews with chairs to provide accessible seating and flexibility—the original structure was largely unaltered. In the end, we transformed an outdated church building without a new-building-budget.

Of course, not every church remodel situation is the same. This is why we encourage you to sign up for our i3 webinar series. These free webinars give us the chance to illustrate various church remodel scenarios that meet different sets of needs. Visit our webinar page today to learn more about our upcoming presentations.


2017-02-07T12:11:25+00:00 February 7th, 2017|Church Building, Church Design, Foyer Design, Remodeling, Uncategorized|

Carpet Options: Understanding the Lay of the Land

Flooring will be one of the most important finishes in your new church building. We’ve posted on this topic here in the past, and talked about it in our free i3 webinars, telling you about the diverse flooring options you have when designing your church and worship space. Modern manufacturing processes have produced some great new options, but that doesn’t mean you should pass by one of the most traditional, and (especially recently) versatile flooring options: carpet.

Advantages of Carpet

  Bethany Wesleyan Church, Cherryville, Pa

Bethany Wesleyan Church, Cherryville, Pa

Put simply, carpet is quieter and more affordable than hard surfaces. And, because carpet offers many design options, you can still make a bold statement with your flooring. What’s more, depending on your climate, a walk-off carpet is especially practical in your entryway to help clean the bottom of shoes off before they get to your other flooring.

When it comes to selecting carpet (aside from specialty products like walk-off carpeting) there are really two options: broadloom and tile.

Carpet Tile – The Modern Option

Carpet tile is typically 24 x 24-inch carpet pieces that can be laid in a variety of directions and create a assortment of patterns. Recently carpet tile has really taken the industry by storm. Manufacturers have embraced the demand, producing it in different sizes and dimensions, as well as patterns – it means there’s a lot of interesting things you can do with carpet tile.

Geometric tile patterns like these can be used to soften the effect of individual tiles and create a dynamic look for your space:

Blue Grass United Methodist Church, Evansville, In

Blue Grass United Methodist Church, Evansville, In

Another reason to choose carpet tile is that it’s much more “stain friendly” than broadloom. Because of the nature of the backing, spills that stain, stay on top of the carpet and don’t leak through to underneath the carpet – a key for clean-ability. Even if you have an area that’s stained or badly damaged, you can easily replace the affected tile. (But remember, if a spill happens, it will likely be in the middle of the floor – you’ll probably want to shuffle around older tiles first, because a brand spanking new tile in the middle of your floor may be more obvious and offensive than the stain was to begin with). We recommend you order 5% attic stock so you have extra tiles available in the event you need them.

Broadloom Carpet – The Traditional Option

For most people, broadloom carpet is what you think of when you think “carpet.” It typically comes in 12-foot wide rolls. This allows for a much larger scale of pattern than carpet tile does. There isn’t much of a price difference between broadloom and carpet tile, so choosing broadloom often comes down to personal preference – some people just don’t like the look of a carpet tile floor. If you choose broadloom carpet, consider adding a moisture barrier backing to help keep spills on top where you can get to them.

Eaton Church of the Brethren, Eaton, Oh

Eaton Church of the Brethren, Eaton, Oh

Depending on your church’s vision and the types of ministry your church building will offer, you really just need to determine what works best for you.

Carpet Lifetime Considerations

When choosing your carpet options, it’s also important to consider quality as well as warranties. All carpet will stain, but there are products out there that have stain-resistant properties that will help release the stain, making it easier to remove. Stain resistant carpets, while more expensive, will extend the usable life of your flooring, since you’ll be able to treat stains rather than replace the carpet.

Carpet warranties vary widely. Some can cover delamination (the front and back of the carpet coming apart from one another), edge ravel (the yarn raveling at the edge), and zippering (the same as edge ravel, but in the middle of the carpet). Ideally, you’ll find a product that has warranties against all of those things. If your budget requires you to choose a lower-grade commercial product that doesn’t have these warranties, it’s likely the life expectancy of your carpet choice will be shorter.

Need Help Choosing?

Whether you want hard flooring or comfy, quiet, carpet in your new church building – or advice of any kind on your church design for that matter, get in touch with The McKnight Group. We can help make your decisions easier with our decades of experience and expert guidance. Get started on your church remodeling journey by joining us for one of our free i3 webinars today.

2016-09-28T10:01:26+00:00 September 28th, 2016|Church Design, Foyer Design, Remodeling, Uncategorized|

The McKnight Group Announces Construction Start | Indiana, PA

PRESS RELEASE – The Summit Church

Cement truckThe McKnight Group has started work at The Summit Church in Indiana, PA. Construction of an addition of a two-story Children’s and Youth Building in addition to the remodel of existing classrooms into new foyer space.  The new Children’s and Youth Building will consist of classrooms, worship space, restrooms, and play area for the children on the first floor, and restrooms, classrooms, and worship space for youth on the second floor.  The expanded lobby will provide more room for the café and a new women’s restroom.

Owner: The Summit Church, Indiana, PA
Design/Build Firm: The McKnight Group, Grove City, OH
General Contractor: McKnight Development Corp., Grove City, OH
Architect/Designer: McKnight & Hosterman Architects, Inc., Grove City, OH

Church Design Transformations: When Your Church Building No Longer Meets Ministry Needs

There are many reasons why a church building needs to be transformed. One of the truths about ministry is that your vision is going to change over time. In order to reach people for Christ, you need a church building that attracts guests and a church design that makes them want to stick around to learn and grow in your community. This post begins a new series about churches whose current vision mandated a building transition. We’ll show you how The McKnight Group took these older church buildings and updated their design to meet today’s needs.

Reason to Transition: Modern Ministry

One of the most common reasons that church leaders need to transform a church building is that it no longer meets the needs of a modern ministry. Here’s an example of how we’ve taken a church design from the seventies and transformed it into a welcoming worship space for today: Bridgetown Church of Christ in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The church had worked with a local building firm up front but could not get the help they needed because, although the firm had experience working with churches, they did not specialize in church building. Once the church partnered with the McKnight Group we started working on solutions for their new vision of ministry.

The Challenges

Bridgetown Church of Christ - Before

Bridgetown Church of Christ – Before

One of the big issues for this church building was the façade. The new vision of the church had them focusing on reaching younger, unchurch families. The shape of the church, and the colorful, abstract stained glass window, were definitely “hip” in the seventies, but are not in style now. It doesn’t say “church;” it says “history.”

But the problems didn’t end when you stepped into the building. The foyer was small and dark, with low ceilings; it felt like a cave. This outdated church design also didn’t function well in the modern world. There were literally no handicap-accessible restrooms. The women only had a restroom upstairs by the sanctuary. And the men’s restrooms weren’t any better; most of them were downstairs.

Finally, a coat closet had been converted into a tiny café, but it was really just a bunch of coffee pots lined up on a counter. There wasn’t any place for visitors to sit, enjoy that cup of coffee, and build relationships with other church members.

The Church Design Solutions

Bridgetown Church of Christ - After

Bridgetown Church of Christ – After

So what did we do about this? From the outside, you can see that we removed the outdoor walkway and expanded the entire lobby area into that space. We made the ceiling higher and brought in lots of natural light with the addition of plenty of windows. Those windows also have the added benefit of making the place light up at night, attracting visitors who might wonder, “What’s going on in that church tonight?”

church-design-transformations-3Inside this bright and open lobby, we created seating spaces and a small, but more efficient, café that clearly says “hospitality space.” You can see that they integrated their stained-glass history with a framed piece of the old window on the wall next to the café. We also placed convenient, handicap-accessible restrooms just across the lobby, making them easy to find and completely ADA compliant.

You Don’t Have to Transform Everything to Make a Difference

Of course, we know that a lot of churches are afraid that transforming an existing church building means creating an entirely new church design that will be difficult to fund. Here at Bridgetown, we worked with the church to prioritize the work, focusing on what brings people in and helps visitors become members.

church-design-transformations-4Obviously the lobby was key; with the worship space itself, we didn’t make a lot of changes. We focused on a facelift to address key ideas: comfort and flexibility. Replacing pews with chairs increased seating capacity, comfort and flexibility. New carpeting, lighting and paint made the place feel more bright and welcoming. And a transformed HVAC system, along with energy-efficient windows over the existing stained glass, brought improved heating and cooling comfort.

One of our recent, free i3 webinars covered the fine points of transitioning churches to meet modern needs. It’s the type of topic you can learn more about by signing up for our webinar series today!

Sampling Church Building Features: Foyers and Entrances, Part Two

In our previous article, we took a closer look at the important features of a church building, examining the exterior of some churches and explaining how they help to bring visitors inside. In part two, we’ll move inside to talk about important aspects of the lobby or foyer.

More than Just a Coatroom: The Function of Lobbies

Crossview Church Lobby

Crossview Church Lobby

So why do you need a lobby in the first place? Older churches usually had a very small foyer, because all it was used for was closing up umbrellas and maybe hanging up one’s coat before heading in for worship.

Today, however, the lobby has become a much more important space. It’s a central hub for meeting and conversation, perhaps over a cup of coffee. It helps direct visitors toward children’s and youth areas as well as the worship space. It also needs to have good signage so that visitors know where to find areas like the restrooms and classrooms.

Crossview Church Children's Area

Crossview Church Children’s Area

Lobbies now frequently have a welcome center with greeters who can help visitors find their way around. You can clearly see the welcome center the first picture from Crossview Church in Grabill, IN, and in the next picture you can see that the children’s check-in is definitely geared toward kids! Crossview Church also installed a moving wall that’s used to create a children’s church during services, cleverly generating even more use from their lobby space.

Rise of the Incredible Growing Lobby

NewPointe Community Church

NewPointe Community Church

In order for a foyer or lobby to fulfill all these functions, these spaces have gotten a lot bigger in recent years. If you want people to hang around before and after worship to get to know each other and learn how your church can become part of their lives, you’ve got to have room for everyone to mingle, and the lobby is the obvious place for this to happen.

As you can see from the photo of NewPointe Community Church in Dover, OH, they’ve got some great seating areas as well as space for people to move around, in and out of the café, to have their conversations.

Bridgetown Church of Christ

Bridgetown Church of Christ

Of course, you don’t necessarily need a huge church building to create room for a meaningful lobby space. Bridgetown Church of Christ in Cincinnati, didn’t have room for a full-blown café, but they’ve got a coffee bar and information center, seating areas, and lots of glass to let in light, which helps make everyone feel more welcome.

Move Over Starbucks: The Importance of a Café in Your Church Building

For churches with sufficient room, a full café offers a great way to help visitors feel at home. Some churches even keep their cafés open during the week.

If your church is in a central part of town or the church building is used regularly for meetings and community events during the week, keeping the café open is an excellent way to encourage visitors to stop by and learn more about your church. Even if you can only afford to keep it open on Sundays and after your midweek service, it still presents a great opportunity to invite visitors to stick around and talk.

As you can see here, Bethany Wesleyan in Cherryville, PA’s café is very visible and central in the lobby space, and the café tables are grouped close to windows, which helps make the space look inviting to people driving by outside. You can also see the clear signage, helping guests know where to register for children’s church and where first-time visitors can find assistance.

But Wait, There’s More…

To learn more great ideas about maximizing your foyer or lobby space, you should explore our i3 webinar series. Simply visit our website and sign up today. They’re absolutely free.

2015-10-21T07:55:33+00:00 October 21st, 2015|Children's Spaces, Church Building, Church Design, Foyer Design, Uncategorized|

Sampling Church Building Features: Foyers and Entrances, Part One

Bethany Wesleyan

Bethany Wesleyan

We say it a lot: You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. This is why we believe the design of the entrance and foyer or lobby of your church building is a critically important part of your church vision and outreach. This article forms the beginning of a series that will take a closer look at important features of church buildings and how specific churches address those features—and for this one we won’t even get inside the church! We want to spend time talking about how first-time visitors approach your church building and what they need to see in order to find their way inside.

Finding the Main Entrance to Your Church Building

Cypress Wesleyan

Cypress Wesleyan

We often find that visitors actually have problems finding the front entrance to many church building complexes, especially if those buildings are older or have been remodeled a number of times. If you’ve been a member of the church for a while, you automatically head for the “front door,” but people who haven’t been there before might choose the door closest to their parking space and end up in a back stairwell and not have a clue how to find their way to the worship space.

Bridgetown COC Before & After

Bridgetown COC Before & After

Now, there are some clear ways that your church building itself can show the main entrance, such as Bethany Wesleyan in Cherryville, PA, which has a large covered entryway to allow families to be dropped off and stay dry in bad weather. Galloway, OH’s Cypress Wesleyan also uses a canopy to catch visitors’ attention, and Bridgetown Church of Christ in Cincinnati, a remodeled building, has a smaller, clear glass awning which also helps to guide visitors to the main entrance.

Giving Them a Sign


Bethany Wesleyan Signage

But if you don’t want to invest in such a major entryway renovation, one easy and affordable way to assist visitors is with clear and visible signage. If you have a large church building complex, provide helpful signs in each parking lot to direct visitors toward your main entrance. As you can see with Bethany Wesleyan church, they’ve clearly marked the South Entrance to their church building as another place where you can also enter the church building complex.

Giving Them a Glimpse Inside

Another way to bring visitors into your church building is to give them a glimpse inside the lobby or foyer. If your entryway includes a lot of tall glass windows, passersby can clearly see into your lobby, where church members are talking with each other in groups, sharing coffee and conversation. This is a great way to help them imagine what they could experience if they came inside themselves.


Bridgetown COC Open Wall

With Bridgetown COC, you can see that we actually opened up the wall on the side of the lobby. This serves two purposes: it lets more light into the lobby, and also helps passersby to see the people, not just the wall of the church building. The front windows at Cypress Wesleyan actually perform three functions: Let the light get in, let people see in, and let the windows become signs, advertising the church’s current vision for ministry.

To learn about important features of the lobby itself, watch for Part Two of Foyers and Entrances next week. Meanwhile, sign up for our free i3 webinar series to learn more about other important features of your church building.

2015-10-14T08:26:12+00:00 October 14th, 2015|Church Design, Foyer Design, Uncategorized|

The Importance of a Foyer in Your Church Building

church-building-foyer-designOnce upon a time, the worship center was the only church building space that counted. That was where everyone expected you would focus your attention, in terms of design, electronics, etc., because you could assume that if visitors showed up and liked the worship and the preaching, they would stick around for Sunday School and other activities.

That’s not the way things are today. Converting first time attenders into full-fledged attenders, who are active in your church beyond Sunday morning worship, is not easy. This is why the foyer is a key element for any church building or remodeling plan.

What Studies Show

Research give us some clues about how to keep those visitors around and convert them into active participants in the rest of your weekly activities. It indicates that people need to make 12 new friends during the first six months that they attend a new church. If they don’t make that many friends, 80% of them will eventually stop attending. This means that any church remodeling or new building plan has to include spaces where people can talk with each other, get to know one another—become friends.

What the Foyer Does

One of the best places for doing this is the foyer. Unlike the worship space, which is designed to focus everyone’s attention up front, on the worship team, a good church foyer is designed to help people focus on each other, slow down, and enjoy some conversation.

So how does a foyer, or welcome center, do that? A café is helpful, because when you grab a cup of coffee, you want to sit somewhere to enjoy it. Your café tables, and seating groups with inviting, comfortable chairs, will provide a way for regular attenders to naturally suggest that first time attenders join them for something to drink before departing.

When you install glass at the front of the foyer and put those nice seating areas nearby, a first time attender can see into the church building and feel more comfortable knowing what they will find inside. They can also easily see all those people being friends with each other and think, “I want that, too.” Plus, the glass lets in lots of natural light to make the space feel bright and welcoming.

What Your Church Building Needs

These are just some of the reasons that your church remodeling or new building project needs to focus serious attention on the foyer. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money; colored concrete, done right, is a perfectly acceptable floor for your welcome center. The point is to choose a color that’s going to match your church’s vision for drawing in visitors and encourages them to stick around and make some friends.

To learn more about the importance of the foyer and other key areas in your church, sign up today for our free i3 webinar series.

2015-08-19T07:28:40+00:00 August 19th, 2015|Church Design, Foyer Design, Uncategorized|