St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, White River Junction VT

A vibrant parish deeply committed to joyous worship and community service, St. Paul’s commissioned a building discernment committee in early 2008 to assess space needs, both within the parish and of the various community groups using the facilities regularly. I served as a member of this committee for four years, with the overlaid role of “architectural mentor.” This was followed by a fifth year as a consultant to the vestry (the governing body of the church) and liason to the architect.

I mentored the committee, including:

  • aid in understanding the overall process, including consideration of“green” technology and cost estimating
  • selection of & coordination with an engineering firm to run an energy audit of the building
  • support through the interviewing process and the hiring of a Vermont architectural firm
  • facilitation of communication with the architect

After an initial presentation of plans for expansion was made and deemed too ambitious and costly, a capital campaign consultant was hired. She required the committee to step back and create a vision statement and mission goals for the parish.

I assisted the committee to:

  • segregate the goals into immediate and long-term for each of the five areas of “mission”
  • define the impact on the facilities of each goal and create a masterplan
  • translate these impacts into space programming for the architect’s use
  • phase the expansion into two or possibly three steps, dependent on the results of the capital campaign feasibility study
  • create an overall project cost estimate which included the architect’s construction estimate

A second, scaled-down expansion plan was presented in 2011. The subsequent feasibility study revealed that the parish could raise approximately 25% the estimated cost. Before the committee could downsize the project again, the parish was engulfed in relief efforts following Hurricane Irene. Eventually, the vestry assumed the work of redefining the project, while simultaneously searching for additional funding.

I worked with the vestry to:

  • communicate with the decommissioned building committee, the architect, and the parish
  • consider multiple, alternative designs for phased expansion (which I provided), primarily to emphasize cost implications
  • define a “renovations only” project
  • meet with the architect and a representative of the local fire department to review the local authority’s requirements for life safety and accessibility codes

The chronic effects of the 2008 economic recession and the critical events of 2012 – loss of the church’s rector and transition to an interim clergy person – have postponed the building project. When it is taken up again, a wealth of information will be available, resulting from the committee’s hard work.

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