The new 72,000 square-foot Willow Creek North Shore features a large state-of-the-art auditorium, a smaller “black box” auditorium, administration offices, youth and adult education spaces, café, and a large sky-lit pre-assembly area surrounding the main sanctuary.
The design concept 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 direct connection the building has to nature. The building was also intentionally designed to look like a community center and engage the surrounding community. The main space is a 1200-seat auditorium that serves the church functions during times of worship but also acts as a multi-functional community space for Glenview. Since it’s opening in December 2016, the space has hosted numerous cultural events.
The interior is accessed by two main entrances, each arriving into a spacious pre-function lobby. It was critical to the client that the building establish a welcoming feeling and a clear diagram that was understandable for both the first-time visitor and those who attend on a regular basis.
The building’s elliptical shape strategically brings the experience of the outdoors inside. The corridors gently curve to allow 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.
A large retention pond was also constructed near the entrance of Shermer Road. The excess soil from the construction of the pond was used to elevate the building by creating a gentle plateau, reducing the need to use off-site soil, thereby reducing construction and energy costs. Several months were dedicated to site works that elevated the building by 5-8 feet from its original grade, so that visitors could enjoy views of the surrounding community.