New Life Christian Center isn't just growing Turlock's faith community, it's also bringing new architecture to the city.
The west Turlock church, located on W. Tuolumne in between Pedretti Park and Auto Mall Drive, plans to build a 54-foot tall, 39,039 square foot worship center and 13,500 square foot youth center — both as Sprung tension membrane structures.
Sprung buildings are constructed of extruded aluminum arches, connected to an all-weather outer performance architectural membrane. The structures are engineered to withstand high winds and snow, according to the manufacturer. The membrane has an approximate 25-year lifespan and can be replaced.
"It's so much more cost effective, that's why we're going with this type of structure," said New Life architect Jim Shaw to the Turlock Planning Commission earlier this month.
When presenting the proposed project to the Planning Commission, Director of Development Services Debra Whitmore said that the Sprung tension membrane structure hasn't been seen in Turlock before.
"It's not common, but it is a construction type used in the U.S. and Canada," said Whitmore.
Big Valley Christian School used the Sprung technique for its construction in Modesto.
In order to address the City's Design Guidelines on variations in roof lines and wall planes to create more visual appeal, New Life agreed to install several metal entryway canopies at the major access points to the buildings and to install large storefront style windows to enhance the appearance of the structure.
The Planning Commission approved the project that New Life hopes to see finished by the end of the year. The project also includes the creation of a recreational field for baseball and soccer. The existing 23,988 square foot auditorium and four classrooms will remain and be used for offices. The parking area will be expanded by approximately 230,000 square feet to accommodate a total of 626 parking spots.
The new two-story sanctuary building will have seating for up to 1,600 people, including a large reception foyer area, four classrooms, a prayer room and a raised platform area for a 20 to 40-member worship team. The second floor will have seven to eight classrooms and additional restroom facilities.
The new youth center will accommodate up to 400 people and include four classrooms.
The expansion project is a long-time coming. New Life opened on Easter weekend in 1977, and in 1997 the church requested a permit to build a two-phase expansion of the existing facility. The classrooms planned as Phase 1 of that development were built, but the new sanctuary building envisioned in Phase 2 was not.
According to New Life Pastor David Larson, difficult economic times prevented the church from completing its plans. Today, however, the church is rapidly growing, with 2,000 people attending one of the four services offered on Sunday.
"As we continue to grow, we need more space," said Larson.
Larson said using Sprung tension membrane construction in not simply cost effective, it allows the church to "invest more in people rather than mortgages."
"The project is not just a benefit to New Life but the community as well," he said.