Archive for March, 2013

Old Buildings – Modern Masterpieces

02/2012-First United Methoodist Church Orlando, Fl.

Editor’s note: Here’s more info on First United Methodist Orlando, which recently received a LEED Silver Certification. It was a CDH Partner’s project. This article was originally published in Religious Product News.)

by Jennifer Walker-Journey

Can an old church building become a modern-day masterpiece?

It was a daunting question posed by leadership of First United Methodist Church of Orlando, an organization with a history dating back to the 1840s. Over the years, the church’s identity had become associated with its sanctuary, which was built in 1982 with a beautiful tower rising 163 feet above its base. The tower culminated in a massive gold-covered cross measuring 12.75 feet high and 5.5 feet wide, and it was so noteworthy in that it is listed as a must-see in the “Tours of Orlando.”

As the sanctuary neared its 50th anniversary, church leadership realized that in order to stay a viable force in downtown Orlando, it had to revamp its physical self to better appeal to the young and young-at-heart. And that, ideally, meant turning the traditional church campus into a more contemporary one, one that fell in step with a more progressive downtown community?

02/2012-First United Methoodist Church Orlando, Fl.

It was a notion architects with CDH Partners didn’t dismiss. The firm has vast experience in master planning with a focus on church design. It also emphasized LEED certification in many of its projects. If anyone could find a way to merge the church’s “old world” charm with modern features, this was the team to do it.

“The decision to design a contemporary structure was a bold move for the church, departing from the traditional structure of the existing worship center,” said Timothy J. Black, AIA, LEED AP and project architect with CDH Partners. “A contemporary addition best articulated the church’s desire to communicate its relevance both architecturally and contextually with the changing community.” Continue Reading


Topping Off Party at Paulding Hospital


Mark Haney president of WellStar Paulding Hospital is joined by CDH project manager Mary Lindeman and Contract Administrator Gregg Kidd at the new Paulding Hospital site.

Wellstar Paulding Hospital, which is a CDH project, is scheduled to open April 2014 with 56 beds. Future expansion will see the hospital grow to a 112 bed facility. When all the phases are completed, it will be an eight-story, 250,000 square foot, Energy Star facility that offers core medical amenities that include emergency services for adults and children, an accredited chest pain center, and private patient rooms, telemetry and medical/surgical, low acuity and high acuity surgery, GI and bronch services, along with ear, nose, and throat care. Cancer therapies will be done on site. The hospital will also offer in patient and out patient imaging. Plus, it will have a state-of-the-art women’s imaging center.


Recently, Brasfield Gorrie general contractors hosted a WellStar Paulding Hospital “topping off” party in celebration of the building reaching its final height. The facility is on tap to become one of the first Pebble Projects in Georgia. Specific focus is being placed on meeting the personal needs of patients as well as the needs of their families and caregivers while maximizing operational efficiency and environmental performance.

“Becoming a Pebble Project has motivated us to think differently about every area of the hospital and medical facility,” said Mark Haney president of WellStar Paulding Hospital. “We didn’t want to build a traditional hospital. We wanted to build a facility that could be integrated into this community in such a way that it becomes much more than just a place to receive medical care. We wanted every aspect of it to be healing and promote wellness. Pebble-based projects are evidence based design concepts. Therefore this hospital will be centered around patient care, quality safety, and efficiency.”


“Once we are full at the first two levels,” said Haney, “we will open another floor and another 28 beds along with growing our staff at the same time. I believe this approach is the best way to remain good stewards of our resources.” The hospital will eventually employ over 300 people and is being seen as a boost to the local economy. It also will contain 30 adult and 10 pediatric emergency exam rooms, and four surgery suites with the flexibility to expand to eight. There are also plans for it to become an educational and meeting center for the Paulding community.

Haney emphasized that the CDH Partners design team helped Paulding’s administrative team take their vision to a higher level, which included holistic design, open work areas, and teaming stations where a greater degree of collaboration can take place. “When we sat down with the integrated design team from CDH Partners, we had certain goals in mind, and they helped us solidify these goals and then to develop a plan where they would become a reality. Meeting the growing needs of our patients, their families, and community was a top priority, but there was another objective that we wanted to reach and that was the care and support of our doctors and our staff. “

The new Wellstar Paulding facility is following a national trend that offers medical services in a community environment—where patients live. It is a very attractive option to the alternative that at times puts healthcare miles away from patients, family members and care givers.


Paulding Hospital will be one of the most advanced hospitals in the state of Georgia.


As a commitment to sustainable solutions, WellStar is investing in the geo-thermal heating system for the new Paulding hospital.


Mark Haney takes time to talk with a few of the CDH staff and compliment the team on the project.

CDH Named Top Architectural Firm


Marietta, Georgia — In a recent issue of the Atlanta Business Chronicle, CDH Partners was named one of the top architectural firms in Georgia. It was ranked number nine in a list of 25 top firms in the state. William Chegwidden president and one of the founding principals said, “This is a tremendous achievement for our firm. It demonstrates the dedication our employees have to CDH and to each project we undertake.”

Last year, CDH was listed 15 out of 25. This year’s move up in this year’s rankings is a credit to the quality of work and the dedication CDH has to its clients and the metro Atlanta community.

CDH was founded in 1977 and incorporated in January 1993 as CDH Partners, Inc. The firm was named after its three founding partners, Bill Chegwidden, Don Dorsey, and Chuck Holmes. Over the years, it has repeatedly been recognized as one of the top ten largest and most progressive architectural firms in Atlanta and in the southeast.

It offers in-house interior design and professional engineering services to compliment the base architectural services. Engineering disciplines include civil, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and structural. Areas of specialty include medical, assisted living, educational, religious, and engineering.

CDH employs over 70 people and included in that number are 10 architects, 9 engineers, 5 Interior Designers, and a support staff of 10. Managing principals include: William Chegwidden, David Strickland, Melissa Cantrell, and Paul Stegenga.

More than 75,000 patients receive care each day in a CDH designed facility. And each Sunday over 500,000 people across the country worship in churches planned and designed by CDH. Along with this number are the thousands that study and work in educational environments designed and built by CDH architects and engineers.

Chegwidden explains, “Each project entrusted to CDH provides an opportunity for us to become personally involved in the lives, visions, and futures of others. It is our opportunity to serve others for a greater purpose.

“This perspective not only drives the way we do our day-to-day work, it is the reason why we do what we do. Most importantly, we share the enthusiasm and concern a client has whether it involves healthcare, education, religious, or another area. I believe the one thing that sets us a part as a firm is our commitment to listen, to communicate and to document the needs and desires of our clients.”

Many of the services CDH offers as “standard and in-house” are treated and billed as extras by other firms. The company’s basic professional service plan includes architectural planning, engineering, interior design and more depending upon what fits your present need.

CDH Partners corporate offices are located at 675 Tower Rd, Marietta, Georgia, and are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information about CDH Partners, please call (770) 423-0016.



A New Beginning for St. Elmo UMC

by Jim Kumorek

(The following article was published in Worship Facilities Magazine, February 2013. St. Elmo’s United Methodist Church, a CDH Partner’s Inc. project, received a 2012 Solomon Award for Church Architecture.) 

August 23, 2009, is a date the congregation of St. Elmo United Methodist Church (UMC) will not soon forget. This was the day when their facility was ravaged by a fire believed to have started with the structure’s original knob-and-tube wiring, according to Michael White, project manager for the Strauss Co. in Chattanooga, Tenn., retained to rebuild the facility following designs from architectural firm CDH Partners based in Marietta, Ga.

“The loss we experienced was tremendous,” comments Rev. Dr. Mark Dowell, pastor of St. Elmo, in an interview conducted by CDH Partners. “It’s hard to put into words. It was a loss of a place we loved.”

Through the generosity and support of other churches in the community, St. Elmo was able to continue its church services in other venues throughout the three-year process of rebuilding. This enabled the church building committee to take the time necessary to evaluate its options and make wise decisions on how to proceed. Please continue reading

Repurposing Existing Space: A Good Idea?

This article was originally published in Worship Facilities Magazine (June 5, 2012)

by David Strickland

Is repurposing existing space a good solution for your growing church?A new building or addition is not always the only answer to meet space needs.

I recently visited a church that is experiencing a huge attendance increase in [its] youth ministry program. As often seen, the increase is also having a positive impact in other age-specific ministry groups at the church. In addition to these students their parents and siblings are becoming involved in small groups and other church activities. After having been at the same church just a few years ago it was exciting to walk through the youth space, which is an older building on the campus, and literally feel that this space is no longer underutilized or somewhat forgotten. I saw tidy spaces with photos and posters and activity calendars on the cleverly decorated walls and I knew that this ministry is serious and it is moving forward with a mission to satisfy a vital need of the church. The truth is that they are thriving and they are doing so in an older building. Please continue reading . . . .

David Strickland is a principal with CDH Partners Inc. in Marietta, Ga. He has 25 years of experience in planning and designing churches and can be reached at

Sustainable by Design

This article was originally published in Church Executive Magazine. Timothy J. Black, AIA, LEED AP, is an architect with CDH Partners Inc., Atlanta, GA. The First United Methodist Church of Orlando has achieved LEED Silver Certification. 

02/2012-First United Methoodist Church Orlando, Fl.

How good stewardship means going green for one church.

First United Methodist Church of Orlando, FL, has remained a significant presence in the city of Orlando since circuit riders ministered here in the 1840s. In 1962 the church’s current sanctuary was constructed in the heart of downtown Orlando. Nine years later a fellowship hall was built, and in 1988 a three-story building across the street was purchased and renovated for church offices, youth activities, some classrooms and a fellowship hall. Please continue reading  . . . .

CDH Master Plan Makes A Huge Difference for Cincinnati Church

The following editorial was published in Worship Facilities Magazine March 19,2011—


On Jan. 9, 2011, Horizon Community Church in Cincinnati celebrated the opening of Phase I of its new campus. After purchasing a 160-acre golf course alongside the Little Miami River in Cincinnati, Horizon Community worked with CDH Partners of Marietta, Ga., to master plan the site as the church’s new campus.

The campus development plan is phased to meet the needs of the congregation as it grows to capacity for each phase of development. An objective for church leadership was to preserve the beauty of the site and orient the campus to take full advantage of the views across the pristine landscape. Reportedly designed with sustainability in mind, the building will conserve energy through the use of energy-efficient HVAC equipment. In addition, the first phase is a traditional French Country design and establishes the foundation for future development.

Phase I includes many outdoor features that help distinguish the campus, such as a 3.5-acre pond with 10,000 square feet of terraces. CDH’s design made use of natural stone and brick on the exterior, creating an Old-World feel to the buildings as one approaches. Focal to the newly completed 65,000-square-foot building, according to CDH’s president, Bill Chegwidden, is a 400-seat chapel, which serves as the initial worship space for the new campus. A main street corridor provides ample indoor gathering spaces and easy access to the chapel; a bride’s room; administrative offices; two theater spaces for youth and children; additional educational spaces for children, youth and adults; a warming kitchen; and parking to serve the initial development. “The exposed arched wood trusses with clearstory windows enhance the warmth of the interior space in the main street area as well as in the chapel,” Chegwidden says. The mezzanine level offers access to a recreation area for the youth.

Future development of the phased master plan includes a large 800-seat worship center, a full service kitchen, doubling the size of the gathering space, a 250-seat youth theater, and expanded parking to serve the needs of a larger campus.

Bill Chegwidden is president and a founding partner of CDH Partners, Inc. 

Blurring the Lines Between Community and Church



While the Bridge Community Center is a part of the ministry of First Baptist Church Peachtree City, Georgia, it also has a broad outreach to the progressive community surrounding it. This brightly designed 23,000 square foot public facility contains multi-purpose classrooms used for support groups and tutoring, meeting rooms, a walking track, gym, and café with open lobby seating area offering free WiFi. The youth area provides indoor recreational space that includes a gym, a basketball court, and a theatrical stage with a state of the art audio and video system used for performing arts and concerts.

Learn how this church is blurring the lines between itself and surrounding community. Continuing Reading

Flooring from A-Z

In an editorial interview Paulla Shetterly, ASID LEED AP, associate principal with CDH Partners discusses carpeting selections that resist stains and fading for heavy traffic areas.

As published in Worship Facilities, Mar/Apr 2010

It’s no secret that the design of the worship facility has become ardently creative, leaving behind cookie cutter sanctuaries surrounded by standard fellowship and classroom space. Today, emphasis is placed on creating space that communicates who the church is, and although it’s frequently unnoticed, flooring plays an integral part in accomplishing that. But gone are the days when designers and church leaders could simply decide on carpet, wood or tile and move on. The modern flooring market offers a plethora of products, manufacturing processes and installation methods to accommodate trends that revolve around churches’ environmental principles and address the variety of spaces churches now have, including large youth areas and specialized third places like cafes and fitness centers. And of course, underneath it all, churches are still looking for the perfect floor that is long lasting and easily maintained.

Worship Facilities Magazine took a look at these trends and asked professionals of all types what the church of 2010 should look for and expect in flooring.

Can carpet be green?

Many concerns arise when dealing with carpet in the church: maintenance needs, how it holds up against heavy traffic, and nowadays, its impact on the environment.

“There are still ornate spaces with plush carpet, but those are no longer the norm,” says Dean Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Church Facilities Managers (NACFM) and business administrator at First Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas.

According to Paulla Shetterly, ASID LEED AP, associate principal with CDH Partners in Marietta, Ga., churches are becoming inherently multi-use and many spaces now incorporate some type of food service. That said, she recommends a 100% solution-dyed nylon carpeting product for a stronger color that will resist stains and fading. Please continue reading . . .

Communicating DNA

In an editorial interview that appeared in Worship Facilities Magazine, CDH president Bill Chegwidden explains how branding your church facility enhances your vision for the future and potential for success.

“Every building tells a story,” says Bill Chegwidden, president of CDH Partners Inc., an architectural planning firm based in Marietta, Ga. “Our most successful buildings tell the story of the church inside the building.”

To make his point, Chegwidden describes a recent project, The Gathering in Sevierville, Tenn. “The pastor started the church several years ago with the vision that it would be a place for gathering all God’s children. In effect, the whole building is a sign that shares that message and vision.”

The church’s entrance is an open and inviting area with a terrace. A large picture window lets people outside see the fireplace in the lobby, while people within the church have a view of the mountains. A large “G” sign—cleverly representing both the “Gathering” and “God”—brands the church. “The building becomes a billboard,” Chegwidden says.

Together Forever: Vision, Brand and Signage

Mark MacDonald, creative director of Pinpoint Creative Group in Winston-Salem, N.C., a full-service branding, design and social media firm that specializes in working with churches, describes a church’s brand as, “The main benefit people derive from attending your church.”

As is the case with The Gathering, the architecture of a building and the signage outside and within the building—from static wayfinding signs to digital signage that promotes events—should all point to the church’s brand.

Whether it’s intentional or not, every aspect of your church advertises your church. “If a church is not actively advertising, not keeping all these things in mind, that’s still an advertisement,” Chegwidden says.
Please continue reading . . .

Where Two or More Are Gathered

2TheGathering Evening wGIn an editorial interview with Worship Facilities Magazine Bill Chegwidden, founding principal of CDH Partners,  explains how building the right facility can create strong community connections and help a church congregation grow.

In 1999, Pastor Gene Wolfenbarger had a vision of the church he would lead in Sevierville, Tenn., a tourism-driven town nestled against the Great Smoky Mountains. The vision was from Ezekiel 28:25, “… for I will gather them from the distant lands,” and the church would be called “The Gathering.”

Since then, Pastor Gene, as he prefers to be called, has seen The Gathering grow into a regional body of worship, and has been blessed with the people and the tools to share a message of healing and hope with distant nations and local residents. One of those tools is The Gathering’s home base in Sevierville, a place where outdoor and indoor have converged to celebrate God’s creation, making it conducive to human, environmental and spiritual connection. But prior to the facility’s completion in April 2009, The Gathering was meeting in a former fitness center and holding five weekend services. “The Gathering needed a place where people could interact, a place where the children weren’t cramped, and where transition between services wasn’t chaos due to lack of space,” says Wolfenbarger.

Over the years The Gathering acquired nearly 50 acres in a growing area of Sevierville, and in 2007 began “The Great Investment” with the help of Dallas area capital campaign consultant The Gage Group. This campaign, which is ongoing, allows donors to advance through five categories (bronze, silver, gold, platinum and diamond) based on the number of times they have pledged, not the overall amount given. To date, the church has raised $4 million and, in March 2007, was able to break ground on a 42,000-square-foot, $11.3-million, state-of-the-art facility. Continue Reading

High-tech Health Care

By Laura Raines

According to Merriam-Webster, informatics is “the collection, classification, storage, retrieval, and dissemination of recorded knowledge.” With a mandate for health care providers to switch to electronic medical records and achieve “meaningful use” by 2014 looming, informatics is a hot career field for nurses.

The American Medical Informatics Association estimates that employers need about 70,000 health informatics specialists to install and maintain new systems and train staff to use them.

While the increased demand for specialists is relatively new, the field is not. Nurses have been helping hospitals adopt technology  to work smarter since before the specialty even had a name.

Nancy Stockslager, who became a nurse in 1983, worked in neonatal intensive care units until she was presented with a unique job opportunity in 1995. A health care corporation was buying  products to create a clinical technology records system. When she was asked to help build the system, she accepted the challenge and never looked back.

Today, as director of clinical informatics at Gwinnett Medical Center, Stockslager, RN, MSN, is responsible for implementation, process analysis, training and maintaining all the health care network’s clinical technology systems. Gwinnett Medical already has adopted electronic medical records and is working toward computerized provider order entry,  in which physicians enter their own orders.

“Informatics has been a very exciting journey and I love it, but it’s a constant challenge. There is never a dull moment,” she said.

Read More…