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Simply heavenly

image The chapel is one of three new buildings Lee Lewis Construction Inc. built for the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas.

DALLAS/FORT WORTH – Although the Church of the Incarnation was founded as the Cathedral Chapel of the Incarnation in 1879, it didn’t settle at Dallas’ 3966 McKinney Avenue until 1927, when a modest brick chapel was secured for the purpose. Nearly 90 years later, this Episcopal church – which grew into one of the Diocese’s largest parishes – needed new spaces for its expanding congregation.

    The plan called for 60,000 sf of new worship and education space in the form of three buildings: a welcome center, an education building and a chapel – but it wasn’t as simple as constructing new spaces. The addition would need to complement the sweeping stained-glassed, Anglican-furnished neo-Gothic style of the property’s other buildings (with the exception of the Great Hall and the school building).
    Lee Lewis Construction Inc.’s superintendent Ricky Donithan, assistant superintendent Jared Schafer, and project manager Jordan Wallace worked closely with HH Architects’ Gary Kirchoff and owner representatives Kyle Nix and Elias Bahar of Pritchard Associates Inc. to design and construct spaces that respected the past but prepared for the future.
    “The general challenge of this project was to provide a neo-Gothic-style building that incorporated green building practices while introducing 21st century building methods as to not impact the design visually,” Wallace explains.
    Once they began construction in March 2014, the team realized that honoring the church’s architectural style wouldn’t be the only challenge they would face in the project’s 21-month time span.
    “There were other challenges with weather that impacted drying in the project,” Wallace says. “Another challenge was working with cast stone materials that were primarily placed at interior and exterior openings while maintaining the structural capabilities and keeping a waterproofed building.”
    Once the spaces were constructed, high-quality materials were incorporated to achieve a stunning effect. Slate roofing material and marble countertops were imported from Ourense, Spain and Verona, Italy, respectively. Other elements were locally commissioned, such as the Dallas-fabricated cast stone and Low-E glass, the Lueders, TX cornerstone, and the Arkansas-fabricated Douglas fir decking and yellow pine trusses and beams.
    The new spaces allow the church to host larger groups and gatherings than could have previously been accommodated, but thoughtful design of the structures creates an aura of intimacy despite its grand proportions.
    “The building has a refined audiovisual and theatrical presence without losing focus of the interior architectural features through the use of millwork and sound-absorbing features,” Wallace says. “The three buildings – the welcome center, education and chapel – separately invoke a feeling of ascension to heaven from which the new chapel has been named. The 50-ft. ceilings and exposed wood trusses draw visitors’ eyes upward toward the heavens, while the size of the room still allows an intimate connection with the speaker.”
    Completed in December 2015, the space is nothing less than inspirational.
    “All members of the project team provided key input for delivering a project that reflected the owner’s desires,” Wallace says. “The architect was able to illustrate the owner’s ideas and then work closely with Lee Lewis Construction for fundamental construction methods and constructability.”
    Established in 1976, Lee Lewis Construction Inc. offers pre-construction, construction and post-construction services through its Dallas, Lubbock and Austin offices. The company focuses on education, sports, recreational, civic, municipal, religious, hospitality and entertainment, retail, financial, healthcare and corporate facilities. –mjm

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Sue Johnson sjohnson@constructionnews.net