Tennessee - For: TMA Architects
"1982 Engineering Excellence Award"
from the Consulting Engineers Council of Georgia
"Outstanding Engineering Project,
1980-1981" from the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers.
Published in "Modern Steel
Construction," 1983 issue
Situated on 34-acre site, Central
Church consists of a 5,000-seat sanctuary, offices, a 150-seat choir loft, baptistery,
orchestra, kitchen, nursery, fellowship hall and 35 classrooms for a total of
105,200 sq.ft. Its four-story circular design insures efficient internal
circulation, as well as convenient accessibility to surrounding parking areas.
The structural design criteria
required the engineer to develop a clear-span roof structure for the sanctuary,
which would be compatible with, and enhance, the aesthetics of the building. To
create a religious atmosphere and retain a feeling of human scale, one would
focus on a centrally located pulpit while seated in the column-free sanctuary.
Ceilings ascend up towards the center of the sanctuary where a skylight is
situated. This design provides natural light and enhanced aesthetic efforts.
Criteria also included the structural design of adjoining classrooms, offices,
malls and other related spaces, plus provisions for future expansion.
- A 197-ft clear-span structure over a circular sanctuary is
constructed of 16 radially arranged trusses, which vary in depth from
7ft-6in. at the eave to 30 ft at the peak. Both the top and bottom chords
of the trusses slope up toward the center of the sanctuary, which creates
a structure resembling an " inverted morning glory."
Clear height at the center of the building is 56 ft.
- No exterior tension ring could be provided to resist the
outward thrust created by the upward sloping bottom chord. Therefore, the
roof itself was designed as a totally self-stabilized freestanding
- A 30-ft diameter skylight was made at the center and extends
upward into a 25-ft high cupola that supports the 90-ft cross above
- Vertical x-bracing was needed for the structural framing
system. However, the locations of the bracings coincided with the location
of fixed stained glass windows. To satisfy structural and aesthetic
requirements, a specially designed connector resembling a cross was
provided. This satisfied structural needs and was aesthetically pleasing.
- The ceiling was sculpted to reflect the structural framing
system, producing an elegant, cost-effective solution.
- An attic space with catwalks permitted service access to
ceiling lights, audio equipment, HVAC and other mechanical equipment.
- The roof system was extended radially outward from the
sanctuary, with more conventional framing used to encompass various two to
four-story classrooms, office spaces and 30-ft mall areas.
- The floor was a conventional composite construction, which
proved to be both sturdy and cost-effective. In addition to its magnitude,
the roof-structure over the sanctuary is unique in itself. A soaring cross
on the 30-ft open skylight in the center of the huge roof express the
designer's boldness and imagination.
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