Special Considerations for Building in the Community
Building religious structures brings unique challenges for designers. The project must accommodate the specific liturgy; provide space for worship for varying numbers of people; and consider the spatial needs for different kinds of services, for example, Ramadan crowds differ from regular Friday services. Designers must provide not only space for worship, but also spaces for the community to gather for events such as weddings, for schools and child daycare, for the clergy to live and work, for charitable or social activities sponsored by the organization, and for counseling services to congregation members. In addition, any outdor spaces must acknowledge the institution's role in the neighborhood, be able to work as a festive backdrop for wedding photographs, as contemplative retreat at funerals, and possibly as a play area for the children in care at the institution.
Several items on this panel highlight particular contemporary issues that must be addressed when planning a religious space. Parking is addressed in the example of Don Olsen's memo about the Christ Temple Apostolic Church. Mai Arbegast's correspondence with the City of San Francisco's Planning Department raises problems about homelessness, a particularly sensitive topic when dealing with an institution whose mission may include serving the homeless population. Other factors such as accessibility and congregants' comfort in sitting or kneeling are discussed in letters about St. Mary of the Virgin Church in San Francisco.