Since the summer of 2009, when planning for the renovation of All Souls Church began in earnest, the priorities communicated to the Comprehensive Assets Planning Team (CAPT) have been remarkably consistent and emphatic:
- Make the church safer and more accessible;
- Make it more efficient and sustainable to the greatest extent possible;
- Give our children better, roomier, lighter, friendlier space for religious education;
- Give the congregation better and more bathrooms and community space.
Added to those was another inescapable priority: fix what is broken or out of date. The probing and poking done by our architects, the Kerns Group, revealed many essential repairs to the roof, gutters, and façade, along with the need to replace outworn heating, plumbing, and electric systems. What we have to do, piled atop what we want to do, amounts to more than our $9.5 million projected budget will permit. But many meetings and a constant flow of feedback to the CAPT have led to broad consensus on the changes and improvements we will make. Detailed drawings of the planned changes can be found at elsewhere on this site, but here are the highlights:
- A three-story elevator will be installed on the 15th Street side. Ramps, railings and other improvements will make the building compliant with the Americans with disabilities Act (ADA). All systems in the building will be brought into compliance with current building codes. Outside, a brand new ramp on the corner of 16th and Harvard Streets will improve access to the building. Lighting and security devices will enhance safety for the building and its visitors. All renovated areas will be equipped with sprinklers.
- Planning the renovation created huge opportunities to improve the efficiency and environmental sustainability of the church. New heating and cooling systems, along with insulation for all the roofs, will decrease energy usage. Conduits will be installed to accommodate the wiring for a future solar energy system. New lighting will be much more efficient than current fixtures, and offer far superior lighting for RE and other areas, New plumbing will reduce water usage. In addition, a storm water storage system is planned to capture and re-use rainwater for irrigation and, depending on the availability of funding, for flushing toilets. Finally, with the willing cooperation of our contractor, Forrester Construction, sustainability and social justice principles will be followed to the greatest extent possible throughout the whole reconstruction process.
- Religious education classrooms in the Hamele wing (primarily under the patio) will be completely redone to bring our children more air, more room, and – thanks to new skylights — more light. A new nursery will also have a skylight. Access and circulation will be improved through changes to hallways and the reopening of the stairway from the 16th Street narthex. Limitations on funding make desired changes to the gym, chapel, dining room and kitchen beyond reach. Changes to the lower level will also create some new office space for the staff.
- From the first, the congregation made it abundantly clear that new, better and more accessible bathrooms were mandatory. Plans now call for ten rest rooms for men and ten for women. Six of those will be handicapped accessible. A toddler’s restroom on the lower level will also have enough clearance for handicapped. Another major change to the main floor is the creation of a brand-new welcoming space. Offices between the Harvard Street entrance and the courtyard will be torn out, and replaced by a large gathering space with a reception desk. The patio or terrace at the northwest corner of the church — prime space that is currently used only rarely – will be completely redesigned and connected with the new gathering space through a separate entrance.
Not everything we had hoped for is currently included in the plans. And a few details of the plan remain to be decided. For example, we still do not know if funds will be available for any repairs to the clock tower, nor do we know the full extent of the storm water storage system. Some decisions will depend on how well and how rapidly pledges are fulfilled. News of updates will be reported here.