Design of Evans church The Sanctuary wins award

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The innovative design of an Evans church, built primarily out of wood, has garnered an award for a local architectural firm.

Architect McDonald Law talks about the design of The Sanctuary in Evans. Hughes, Beattie, O'Neal, Law Architects/Planners won the "Wood Behind the Walls" award for the church's innovative design.  JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
Architect McDonald Law talks about the design of The Sanctuary in Evans. Hughes, Beattie, O'Neal, Law Architects/Planners won the "Wood Behind the Walls" award for the church's innovative design.

The Sanctuary, a nondenominational church in Evans, was built with wood rafters, siding and finishes. But it was what was behind the walls that WoodWorks, an initiative of the Wood Products Council, recognized when it presented Hughes, Beattie, O’Neal, Law Architects/Planners with the Wood Behind the Walls award last week in Atlanta.

The award honors the creators of nonresidential buildings for architectural design and function that showcases wood’s strength, versatility and cost-effectiveness. At the Evans church, more than 90 percent of the building was framed in wood.

“It was a great project,” said McDonald Law, who accepted the award on behalf of the firm. He was the principal in charge of the project. George Downs was the design architect, and Johnson, Laschober & Associates served as structural engineers.

“It does have some steel, but anywhere we could substitute wood, we did,” Law said. “We wanted to use a lot of wood whether you can see it or not.”

The emphasis on wood was a natural choice, Law said.

“Wood is renewable. It’s much less expensive to regrow and replace,” he said. “And it’s better for the acoustics. Sound bounces off the walls instead of reverberating through.”

From the beginning, the church hoped to blend both traditional and modern design to create a unique 950-seat sanctuary, said the Rev. Bryan Cockrell, who started The Sanctuary in 2006.

“So many churches today are being built like warehouses,” he said. “We wanted something more traditional, with modern elements. So many of the newer buildings are just big, black boxes.”

The church, with board-and-batten siding and peaked windows and gables, is a reinterpretation of Carpenter Gothic design.

“It’s old, it’s new. It’s beautiful and just right for us,” Cockrell said.


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