Faced with increased attendance — as many as 6,000 churchgoers on a typical weekend — and a need for larger worship facilities, Grace Community Church in Noblesville, IN embarked on an ambitious two-phase expansion program, completed in August. Phase one (which opened in 2007) included the construction of eight small 200-seat auditoriums for worship by children in various age groups, plus two larger worship rooms for students. The centerpiece of phase two is the new 1,650-seat south auditorium, designed with a large 80'×40' floor-level stage and seating in a 270° configuration. Auxiliary spaces comprise audio and video recording/editing studios, an equipment maintenance and set design shop, and storage areas. This auditorium, in addition to the two existing ones, allows three different services to run simultaneously.

The extensive technology in the new auditorium includes 14 Vortek Pro Series motorized line sets over the stage and a Crestron automation package that controls major systems within the room via wireless touchpanels. The Meyer Sound rig, featuring Meyer's Constellation VRAS system, also has 100 Meyer MM4XP, UPM, and M1D speakers. The main audio rig includes 14 UPJ-1P VariO speakers, four CQ-1 speakers, nine CQ-2 speakers, and six M1D-Sub subwoofers. The Yamaha PM5D audio console is used with three Peavey MediaMatrix NION N6 DSPs. A Whirlwind E-Snake system including 11 ES-2 input and output modules, totaling 176 audio channels, controls the signals to and from the FOH. A Reidel Digital Matrix Mainframe intercom system linking all three auditoriums completes the package.

The auditorium includes a high-definition video system including three Barco CLM HD8 8,000-lumen HD projectors, six Sanyo PLV-WF10 4,000-lumen projectors, nine custom Stewart Filmscreen projection surfaces, three Ikegami HDL-45 HD cameras, dual HD coolux Pandoras Box media servers, an Evertz 32×64 HDSI Router, and a Ross Vision 1 video switcher with 16 inputs and 32 outputs.

The lighting rig uses fully Ethernet-based DMX distribution and includes 34 High End Systems Color Commands, eight Robe ColorSpot 700s, 130 ETC Source Four PARs and PARnels, a Jands Vista T2 lighting console, and over 650 Philips Solid-State Lighting Solutions iColorCove 12" LEDs and ColorBlast 12s. Custom MechoShade automated black-out window shades and two LeMaitre Radiance Hazers add atmospheric effects.

“These two phases doubled the size of our facility to near 200,000sq-ft. The total project budget was $28M, including an AV budget of $4.4M. The entire $28M was fully pledged by our church's congregation, a reality that left our leadership beyond words,” says Daryl Cripe, senior director of production for the church. “I truly believe we built unique, intimate auditoriums that serve both our adults and children well. It was a high value to my staff that we selected AV systems that maximized our ability to use the arts in these auditoriums, including varied music styles, video, dance, drama, and whatever else our design teams can dream up. However, those systems also had to be, and I stress had to be, user-friendly enough to allow us to continue using our great team of volunteers. We have 120 active volunteers on our team, and each weekend requires 35 of them to operate these auditoriums.”

Cripe adds, “Our architect, Kevin Callahan from Callahan Studios, and our AV designers, Vance Breshears and Jeff Miller from Sound Technology Consultants, brought a level of intimate collaboration from the very beginning of the project that allowed us to design the facility with the AV in the forefront of the entire process versus an add-on later. This collaboration resulted in the fantastic facility we have today. It was perfect to see architecture and AV integrated into a single process.”