Grace Church - Anderson

Anderson, SC

The Anderson campus occupies the former home of the old art deco State Theater, circa 1910. The building later became a community theater, then sat empty for nearly a decade. When the project began, the theater was in rough shape and required remediation for mold and various other problems caused by years of neglect.

The design team carried art deco motifs into the renovation while leaving exposed brick and other historic elements sprinkled throughout the facility. The auditorium translated perfectly into the new worship space. At the client’s request, the team reduced the capacity by removing seats to create a more intimate and flexible space. With new paint, refreshed finishes, and the insertion of a ramp, the worship space feels timeless. The existing exterior ticket booth remains at the entry, and the church signage has been integrated into the old marquee. The curvy art deco lobby aesthetic was enhanced and reworked to allow for an accessible front entry, new restrooms, and new nursery check-in space. The upper portion of the three-story flyloft remains visible from the new rear entry floor level that was constructed in the lower portion of the existing flyloft.

As in any renovation project, balancing program needs with the constraints of an existing structure proved challenging. The design team also helped the client navigate an unexpected challenge: figuring out how to connect the  building to additional second story leased space in an adjacent building. The opportunity to lease the space came well into the design process, and the floor heights did not align; the solution includes adding an elevator to transition between the different levels. Working out the interconnected elevator, stairs, head heights, egress, and access issues became a three-dimensional puzzle, and one which required close coordination with the city and attorneys to create an easement for access.