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


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