Challenged to develop a master plan for the growing church in a satellite community of metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, debartolo architects developed an innovative architectural language for a church named after an existing tree grove that partially covers their site.
Influenced by the 10-acre grove of pistachio trees and the church’s passion to send people from their church around the world to meet humanitarian needs, a new formal construct was devised. The architects developed a horizontal cathedral – one that celebrates diversity, light and material. This organization of the low horizontal building, snug to the earth, gracefully allows the mature grove of trees to share the dominance of the site. With an all glass exterior and entries on all sides, the massive roof shades the glass and creates a shaded walkway around the exterior. Entering through the glass facade, churchgoers move into the worship space, wrapped in re-purposed wood, and descend into a series of terraces that focus around a platform 6-feet below grade in the center of the room. Additionally, the principle walls that support the horizontal roof plane serve as an armature for the congregation’s flourishing art community, a memorial to the community’s impact and investment in much of the developing world.
The completed worship building accommodates more than 1,500 people and is complimented by two children’s classroom buildings that frame an outdoor room between the three buildings. Employing a simple and durable material palate, the new structures have exposed masonry walls, cor-ten steel, exposed structure, glass, and re-purposed barn wood. The interior is filled with a variety of furniture types reinforcing the eclectic and diverse nature of the faith community.