Size – How the Church’s Needs for Space Were Determined
Our architects went to great lengths to clearly identify our space needs. Different churches conduct different activities, they have different space needs; there is no “one-size-fits-all” formula in designing a church. Therefore our architect used an in-depth analysis that factored in Sufism Reoriented’s current activities and functions, plus those we have been unable to undertake for lack of space. An example of the latter is access to our extensive library of sacred literature, which has been in storage for almost two decades.
Included in the design is a large, open concourse on the lower level with skylights so that the windowless underground space will be pleasant for those who will work there daily or visit. This represents two-thirds of the building's 66,000-square-foot space.
After all these needs were identified, the architect incorporated them into his design.
How the Space Will Be Used
Spiritual Education and Worship
Our church provides extensive education in deepening one’s love for God in one’s daily life and living the principles and guidance given by Meher Baba. Members of Sufism Reoriented celebrate these themes in our worship. The spaces planned for these activities include the 5,000-square-foot Prayer Hall where we will gather for spiritual lessons and worship services on Friday and Sunday evenings. The Prayer Hall is designed to seat a maximum of 400 people (350 members plus guests) and is the same square footage as the Prayer Hall at our current church. A small classroom is also part of the design of the surface building
Preparation of Lessons
As many as twenty new lessons on spiritual themes are produced on videotape each year. Space that will be used for the preparation and recording of these lessons includes: the office of the Murshida (spiritual director) and related support offices; a library to house our extensive collection of sacred literature used for research; a video recording studio where weekly lessons will be recorded; a combined film/photo/audio library housing material used to enrich presentations; a video post-production room; and a multi-purpose room where transcripts of lessons will be created.
Spiritual Music and Drama
Our many musician members have created over 1,500 original musical compositions on spiritual themes, including oratorios, original musical dramas, and 135 performing-arts programs that have been recorded on videotape. Spaces in the church allotted to support this work are: the music-scoring room; a studio for music, drama, and dance where our seventy-person chorus and two smaller choruses will rehearse and be recorded; an audiovisual tech room; a sound-mixing room; and multi-purpose rooms where we will produce and package CDs and DVDs for the bookstore. In the Concourse Plaza, we will host semi-annual musical and dramatic events focused on spiritual education and worship. Occasionally the kitchen will be used to prepare church suppers.
Creation and Handling of Religious Art
We have many members talented in the visual arts who celebrate Meher Baba’s life and teachings through their works. We currently have 148 pieces of original art, mostly in scattered storage areas, as we have no place to properly preserve or display them. The sanctuary will include two art studios, an art storage vault, an area for proper handling of religious art works, and large expanses of wall for display.
Archival Storage and Preservation
Sufism Reoriented is responsible for extensive archival material related to Meher Baba. Our church will include an archive room where sacred items will be stored, preserved, and displayed.
Bookstore and Publications
Our bookstore of religious works will be open to the public. Also, Sufism Reoriented sometimes publishes books, primarily because Meher Baba entrusted the publication of a number of his major works to us. In addition to the bookstore and storage area, space is provided for publication administration offices; multi-purpose rooms where manuscripts will be prepared, laid out, proofread, and produced; and a room where inspirational greeting cards and similar items will be produced for the bookstore.
Other Work Spaces
The concourse level will include rooms for flower arranging, plant care, cleaning, gardening, and planning of projects, which work teams will use in the care and maintenance of the interior and exterior of the building and its grounds.
Building Support, Circulation, and Storage
Building-support spaces include restrooms; mechanical, electrical, and pump rooms; building and materials storage; file room; coat room; coffee room; and circulation spaces that include the rotunda, staircases, corridors, and hallways. Together these account for more than twenty-eight percent of the total square footage.
Space for Beauty
We place a high value on beauty and the aesthetics of sacred spaces. The new sanctuary will provide a sense of spaciousness in which to express beauty and create an appropriate environment for worship.
Scale of Surface Building in Relation to Neighboring Building
From the beginning of our design process, our aim has been to construct a building that would not be obtrusive in relation to our neighbors'. The rendering below illustrates how our architect has succeeded in maintaining a low surface profile for our building.
The computer-generated in-scale image above shows the sanctuary overlaid on the immediately adjacent Le Boulevard apartments for the purpose of comparing the height and mass of these two buildings. This view shows that the visual mass of Le Boulevard Apartments is greater than the visual mass of the sanctuary. In addition, unlike Le Boulevard, which is very close to the street and has minimal screening, the sanctuary is set back sixty-four feet from the street and will be veiled by a landscape enclosure with trees.