The Gathering Church in St. Louis, Mo., recently opened a new sanctuary - a non-traditional building for a non-traditional congregation, part of the United Methodist denomination.

For The Gathering, the new building is a way to better serve their mission – as stated on their website, “We built this church with the goal of making more space for new people to become deeply committed followers of Christ. As excited as we are to move into the new building, we are even more excited to meet the new people God brings to our church because of the building.”

To reflect their modern-day views, The Gathering’s new home is a unique building that utilizes insulated metal panels (IMPs) and bright colors.

“Internally they were always that forward-thinking church, so the metal cladding and the contemporary new church is a reflection of what the church always was,” says project manager Kevin Gates from Vessel Architecture & Design.
The staff at The Gathering and the architects at Vessel Architecture & Design worked together to create the design for the new building, exchanging ideas and constantly checking in to get the design just right. As a result, the 26,000 square foot building features more than 7,000 square feet of BENCHMARK Designwall 2000 Architectural Wall Panels from Kingspan.

The exterior of the church includes 1,923 square feet of panels in Sandstone, 1,057 square feet in Zinc Gray and 1,121 square feet in Taupestone – all Kingspan standard colors; another 2,974 square feet of panels are in Carnival orange, a custom color from Valspar. The palette pairs well with The Gathering’s signature orange and white logo.  

“Orange is definitely their major branding color and we wanted to incorporate that somehow with a balance of other colors that were dynamic and went well with the orange,” says Cassandra Wallace, an architect with Vessel.
The panels allow for complete creative freedom, as they can be applied horizontally or vertically and provide maximum thermal efficiency while creating a double barrier against air and water penetration. The panels are also GREENGUARD Gold Certified, which means they have been screened for more than 360 VOCs and total chemical emissions to ensure they are not harmful to building occupants and do not adversely impact indoor environmental quality.

Wallace adds that using a complete-envelope system was not only energy efficient and environmentally friendly, but also a more cost-effective way to go.
“We actually looked at a wide range of materiality through the conceptual design process,” said Cassandra Wallace, an architect with Vessel. “We looked at some stone and wood - quite a variety of different things - and we kept coming back to metal being the right fit for the building and the expression for the church.”

Creating a new building gave the congregation several advantages over taking over an existing church; they could tailor the space to meet all their needs, ensure that it has disability access and keep maintenance costs down.

The new $6 million building includes a sanctuary for worship, classrooms and a large lobby for interaction. The new building will be used in addition to the classic 1920s sanctuary they used in the past and holds 600 people; more than double the capacity of the old building.