Friendship Baptist Church, founded in 1862, is Atlanta’s first African American Baptist congregation, but the church found themselves in need of a new house of worship when the Atlanta Falcons acquired the land for the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2015. Van Winkle Construction and CD Moody collaborated to build an ambitious facility that combined the richness of Friendship Baptist Church’s history with the conveniences and sophistication of modern construction. We delivered the $13.9 million project ahead of schedule, below budget, safely, and with professional excellence despite the plethora of multifaceted parts, pieces, and simultaneous coordination from Subcontractors, suppliers, and team members it mandated.
This project included more than a single structure housing a 500-seat sanctuary and fellowship hall. The scope included an entire church campus with administrative offices, conference rooms, choir rehearsal rooms, a 500 seat Sanctuary, a Fellowship Hall with full stage, a commercial grade kitchen, 11 classrooms, a 112-seat Chapel, a 110’ tall steeple tower, a grand Narthex, and a museum and library dedicated to the history of the original church and church community. Van Winkle constructed all of these elements simultaneously. Coordination was key, and Van Winkle’s challenge was coordinating our schedule not only with the construction timeline, but also with the finishes of each specific project area.
The 44,000 sf building called for over 1,100 structural steel members, 2 mega trusses, and 2 prefabricated bar joist trusses. In total, this steel weighed over 400 tons and required numerous coordination meetings with the fabricator and project team to finalize the order and ensure everything arrived in the order and condition required by the building’s project schedule. For the ribbed, vaulted Sanctuary ceiling, Van Winkle managed the careful coordination of framing, hanging, MEP, and AV trades as they completed all of their work simultaneously upon a two-tier platform scaffold with 5,400 sf of working space.
In addition to the new construction, Van Winkle removed, restored, and incorporated the old church’s original stained glass in the new facility’s Sanctuary, Chapel, Pastor’s office, and conference room. Van Winkle also salvaged the original granite cornerstone and time capsule from the original church and reinstalled these items in the prayer garden of the new church. We removed the original church’s pipe organ from the old building, restored it, and installed it in the new sanctuary. Lastly, Van Winkle sent the historic church bell to Ohio for refurbishing, returned it to the jobsite, and hung it inside the new church’s 110’ tall steeple tower.
Although Van Winkle put great emphasis on utilizing antique elements, the building is incredibly modern and energy efficient. Friendship Baptist Church uses all LED fixtures controlled by 3 major touch-screen dimming panel systems located in different wings of the building. The theatrical lights in the Fellowship Hall use wireless tablet controls.