Eagle Brook Church Gives Facility New Life, Celebrates One Year

As Easter brings a sense of celebration and rejoice to congregations, at Eagle Brook Church-Anoka it marks a milestone. Little more than a year ago, this new campus for Eagle Brook Church came to life in one of the more unsuspecting places – a run-down building that housed a long lost Kmart in this northern suburb.

Today, it stands not only as a testament to a vision for new life, it represents the idea of worship innovation. This isn’t the story of thinking outside of the box, though. Just the other way around, it’s an example of what a church can achieve by “thinking inside the box.”

A New Blue Light Special

Enter the lot of the new EBC-Anoka, and the vestiges of a cavernous discount department store where flash sales are completely wiped clean with a colorful palette that welcomes congregants into a vibrant and dynamic worship community. While the approach is nothing new for Minnesota’s fastest growing church, the execution represented a significant deviation from the way other Eagle Brook campuses developed.

Anoka is the sixth campus for Eagle Brook Church, a multi-site Christian community that has grown from a main campus in Lino Lakes that opened in 2005 as one of the region’s first church communities to feature stadium-like seating, mall-like atriums with cafés, and children ministries with distinct and specific identities. Like the other campuses, Anoka grew out of need, where overcrowding temporary locations led to the search for a site that could accommodate traffic, crowds, and a sense of communal celebration.

Unlike the other campuses, though, Anoka developed from an existing site – not a church site and not a clean site. It created a design challenge, if not design options. If developed like other Eagle Brook campuses, the facility would be placed in the middle of the lot, flanked by two parking lots. Existing parking access, though, along with utilities and the existing shell presented other opportunities.

No Need for a Blank Canvas

By keeping the location of the building and reworking the interior layout, EBC opened the door to an all-new experience.

Eagle Brook Church-Lino Lakes and Eagle Brook Church-Blaine floor plans

At campuses like Blaine and Lino Lakes, the natural flow of the facility brings people in through one of two entrances. Families typically follow the flow into the children’s zone before entering the auditorium, while others may utilize the central community space, stop at the café, or enter directly into the auditorium. After a worship service ends, a crisscross flow of people is created as the two groups reverse their routes.

Eagle Brook Church-Anoka floor plan

The former Kmart’s existing long layout shaped a new flow for EBC-Anoka. The community space is located at the front entry, rather than centered between the auditorium and children’s zone. Everyone enters through the front doors before routing to one of three main destinations: the eastern children’s zone; the southern auditorium; or the western café. This way, people can still interact as they wish, but without going against a cross-flow of pedestrian traffic.

Inside, typical EBC design elements were incorporated, but reformatted to better suit the Anoka campus. Windows span nearly the entire front face of the building to flood the interior with natural light and invite everyone to experience EBC. Since the Kmart ceiling heights were designed to be lower for the needs of a retail space, the tiered 1,000-seat auditorium was formed by removing part of the floor slab. Columns are minimized in the auditorium space by converting the structure to long-span.

The existing parking lot stretched all the way to the front doors of the building. By demolishing the first two structural bays of the building, BWBR was able to create a buffer between parking and the building. The finished plaza is a welcoming, open green space for outdoor community gathering and a softer entry.

Different Blue Print, Same Eagle Brook Atmosphere

From a designer’s point of view, Eagle Brook’s success goes beyond the crowds. It shows how the skills needed to create a congregation on an open campus can translate to a campus with existing and, even more significant, non-tradition facilities.

For Eagle Brook, it marked an evolution for the church that had grown in 13 years through the development of new sites.

The community’s embrace is the success, though. For a property that had been lost to changing demographics and shopping patterns, Eagle Brook-Anoka brought back to life a destination that now welcomes individuals and families, creates vibrancy, and unites a community in worship and celebration through four packed services each weekend. Thinking inside the box, Eagle Brook has created for Anoka something much greater outside of it.

Mayo Clinic Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center Honored with Design Excellence Award

Mayo Clinic’s Dan Abraham Health Living Center, which expanded five floors in 2014 to bring comprehensive health and wellness programming to the world-renowned medical center in Rochester, Minn., received the highest honor for design in 2017 by the American Institute of Architects Illinois Prairie Chapter.

In awarding the center with the Excellence in Design Award, jurors noted “the consistency of vision across both phases and interior and exterior of this project.” The jurors also said, “the care with which the individual spaces were shaped makes the most of every surface.” As architect of record and the lead designer, BWBR worked in collaboration with Dewberry on the expansion.

The project expanded the existing Dan Abraham Healthy Living Program designed by BWBR and Dewberry in 2006, bringing a sports medicine clinic and four floors of programming that integrated wellness programs into Mayo Clinic’s healthcare services. The expansion features a balance of care, fitness, nutrition and natural and spiritual awareness.

Welcoming guests into a personal journey of confidence, inspiration and beauty influenced the design elements. A mix of natural elegance, rich materials, and radiant natural light greets guests in the lobby and begins the transcendent journey to long-lasting wellness. Showing a restrained beauty, the expansion reflects Mayo Clinic’s approach to show respect for the guest and employee while demonstrating sophistication in health and care.

“This was a special project because it demonstrated that care is more than just treating an illness. Mayo Clinic’s expertise in health and care shines through this facility to help people lead a healthier lifestyle and avoid the ailments that come with age or sedentary living,” said Pete Smith, FAIA, president and CEO at BWBR and principal-in-charge on the project.

This is the third award for the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center expansion. In 2016, the expansion received a Facilities of Merit Award from Athletic Business Magazine, and in 2016 the Northland Chapter of the International Interior Design Association recognized Sports Medicine Clinic with a Healthcare Design FAB Award.

Multi-Purpose Classroom Facility Celebrates Heritage, Earns LEED Gold Certification

SAINT PAUL – The restoration and remodel of a 70-year-old academic center has done more than reimagine a student resource at Gustavus Adolphus College. Recently certified LEED® Gold, Arthur H. Anderson Hall advances the goal of the historic college to build upon its Scandinavian heritage and advance sustainable strategies throughout the campus.

Anderson Hall joins Beck Academic Hall — certified LEED Platinum — as the second BWBR-designed project to receive LEED certification at Gustavus.

Originally housing the campus library and humanity and social science resources, the 27,000-square-foot Anderson Hall opened in 1948 but was vacated in 2011 with the opening of Beck Hall. The restoration brought the facility back online as a teaching and student resource center housing the Education Department, the Bonnier Multifaith Center, state-of-the-art classrooms, and student gathering and study areas.

Showcasing progressive sustainability strategies in modern teaching facilities that reflect the school’s heritage and mission, the existing site and building exterior play an important role in attaining exemplary performance credit while maintaining the Scandinavian campus design style. The building structure was 91 percent reused, and over 95 percent of the construction waste was recycled.

The team salvaged and reused as much of the original Mankato-based limestone as possible. Meanwhile, the site is a natural connection to the community — walkable, covered with draught-resistant native plants, and close to public transit. The multifaith center features low flow water fixtures, as well as daylighting strategies to enhance education practices and building performance without sacrificing privacy.

Additional strategies used to earn Anderson Hall’s LEED Gold status include:

  • Selecting low-emitting materials;
  • Implementing green cleaning and equipment policies; and,
  • Achieving energy cost savings of nearly 40 percent below baseline.

“Anderson Hall is a great example of a successful balance between heritage, values, and high performance,” said Stephanie McDaniel, AIA, LEED AP, principal and architect at BWBR. “Today’s education leaders are challenged to be great stewards of resources, and Gustavus demonstrates that commitment to both financial and environmental stewardship.”

With nearly 40 LEED accredited professionals currently working at BWBR, the firm is one of the leading advocates for sustainable performance design, incorporating green design strategies into complex environments like academic facilities, R&D centers, and hospitals. As part of a global movement to design smarter, BWBR signed the AIA 2030 Commitment in 2014 which challenges architects and engineers to make buildings carbon-neutral by 2030.