Redeemer Presbyterian Church

A young congregation purchased an abandoned building to reinvigorate as their new home and enhance their presence and permanence within the community.

This is the long-awaited new home of a Midtown, Memphis, TN Presbyterian Church. Since its founding, the congregation has worshiped in a school auditorium, away from its office in a leased tenant space. The congregation purchased a small 1960’s building in Midtown, a historic neighborhood in Memphis, TN undergoing a resurgence.  The existing structure once served as a shelter for battered women. To meet their modest budget, the design concentrates the budget on the worship space and the building’s exterior relationship to the street, making minimal improvements to back-of-house spaces.

The exterior of the design project consists of a few thoughtful interventions that generate an active presence along the street and establish an entry sequence. These include the addition of a weathering steel parapet, a low site wall that bounds an outdoor gathering space along the street and a large front window. A relationship between the new outdoor gathering space and the interior gathering space reinforce a welcoming atmosphere.

One enters the space beneath a low ceiling of acoustical, highly textural tectum panels before the space opens up to deck, maximizing the height of the low structure. Overhead, north-facing light monitors populate the space, emphasizing the feeling of height and affording glimpses of sky and natural light to every member of the congregation. The low tectum ceiling returns at the stage, accentuating the pulpit with a single penetration of natural light. 

Sealed MDF 'light-givers' also populate the space. These window boxes filter light from southern openings. Similar handmade light fixtures activate a tectum ceiling, and the light monitor liners funnel natural light to the congregation. These strategies work together to heighten the worship experience.