If you follow this blog, you know that I’m deep into a fairly large building project for our biggest campus. We had the architect, General Contractor and AVL company taken care of, but one area we had not dealt with yet was Kids Ministry Theming. We decided to hire Plain Joe Studios to do the work. Let me tell you why. The building we are renovating (a former big box store) is 78,000 sq. feet, though we are only doing 46,000 of it to start. The rest will be unfinished. Of that 46,000 sq. feet, a decent amount of it is kids space, and more will be added in a later phase. I’m of the belief that in suburban churches, your kids ministry spaces should be extremely engaging places to enter and be in. Smaller buildings are easy to address with volunteers and some creative people in your church (though you run the risk of making their designs sacred cows that can’t ever be adjusted or changed). Larger building require larger scale design and that generally requires training and experience. So we looked at a couple of companies and landed on Plain Joe Studios based out of California. They’ve worked on some pretty big projects for more than a decade. One of their head designers used to work for Disney World, so he knows a thing or two about place-making.
In talking with Plain Joe’s Mel Mcgowan, we decided to have them design the look and feel of our lobby as well. The lobby is the first impression when you walk into the building and it goes a long way in telling your story as a church. Recently, I walked into a fairly large new church building lobby. It was a multi-million dollar project and yet it appeared that they had spent about $17.00 decorating the lobby. They had functional signage, boring furniture, and a paint scheme reminiscent of a dentists office. It was a hugely missed opportunity. In a few corners here and there, you saw little displays that looked like something you’d find on pinterest. And this is of course what happens when you build a massive lobby but do nothing to give a clear design idea. You get volunteers doing whatever “fun and cute” things they like with stuff they find at hobby lobby. It’s amazing to me that churches will spend millions on buildings, but allocate nothing to how those buildings will actually feel. They will pay architects good money to design the layout of the building, but assume that a few creative people who are great at making their homes feel awesome will also be able to make this massive lobby with 25 foot ceilings tell a consistent story. And even if they “might” be able to pull it off, do you really want to risk having them “learn” on such a crucial project?
Having been in several buildings that Plain Joe has worked on, I’m excited to be working with them on this project and I can’t wait to share with you what they come up with.