Photo by Andrea Rugg

Westminster Church opens addition on Nicollet Mall

Updated: January 19, 2018 - 4:17 pm

Purple-hued glass lines a wall inside a new addition to Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Thanks to a film developed by 3M, the glass can also appear yellow, green or an array of other colors depending on the viewer’s perspective. Tim Hart-Andersen, Westminster’s senior pastor, calls it “stained glass for the 21st century.”

ColorWindow_2017_12_26 web“It’s dynamic. It interacts with you, but you can see out and people can see in. This is an expression of what we want to be as a church,” he said.

Westminster has been at work for the past five years preparing a modern expansion of its 19th century campus that will bring new worship spaces, classrooms and, most importantly for the organization, parking.

In 2012, a gift from a church member focused on acquiring parking jumpstarted what would become an $81.5 million project consisting of buying a neighboring site, demolishing two buildings, designing the expansion and bringing in community partners.

This is one of several additions to the Nicollet Mall campus over its 160-year history, but Hart-Andersen said it was one of the quickest. The roughly 40,000-square-foot expansion fills up Westminster’s block along 12th Street between Nicollet and Marquette.

“It took us a century to fill up a half block. We’re filling up the next half block in five years,” he said.

The addition features 300 parking spaces spread across two levels of underground parking, which will increase the church’s parking by five times.

The first floor has several flexible classroom and worship spaces. There’s a small meditation or prayer room with views of Nicollet Mall.

A large performance hall that Hart-Andersen called “the clearing” is a space designed for both quiet, individual prayer and new Sunday evening worship services with a band.

The large, wood-clad room can also be used as an event space for weddings or even pre-Super Bowl events. Westminster is working with the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee on a Jan. 28 Bold Hope in the North fundraiser that will have feature music and community choirs.

The space will have an inaugural concert on March 2 with Cantus, a men’s vocal ensemble that practices at the church.

Photo by Andrea Rugg
Photo by Andrea Rugg

MeditationRoom_2017_12_26 webThe second floor is devoted to community partners like St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development, an organization that serves 3,000 children and teens. Its space inside the building will focus on supporting children who have faced significant adversity and trauma and who are at risk of out-of-home placement.

Outside the building are two public green spaces fronting Nicollet and Marquette avenues that will help to collect thousands of gallons of rainwater, which is filtered down into the parking structure and used throughout the building. The project’s green initiatives were made possible with funding from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization and Metropolitan Council.

“We’re thinking 50, 100 years out, creating spaces that are functional and flexible for the generations to come,” Hart-Andersen said.

A key element to the expansion is its design, which features updated uses for the four building materials of the church: glass, stone, metal and wood.

A tower on top of the building features an open version of the church tower. The new rooms feature fixtures with metal accents, clean wood flooring and large glass windows. A skyway connection physically connects the church to the modern world.

The design came from James Dayton Design, whose architect James Dayton counts family as church members going back several generations.

“[It’s] honoring the beauty of this place, but interpreting it in a 21st century way,” Hart-Andersen said.

The project gives the church room to further expand. Hart-Andersen said the construction allows them to add four stories on the Marquette side of the property.

“We’re prepared for growth and density in the future, should it happen,” he said.

Westminster plans to cut the ribbon on the expansion in mid-January. Hart-Andersen said the new facility is lighter on its feet and physically engaged with the city, each a goal for the church as an organization.

“We needed another way to worship and another way to meet,” he said.

ChurchExterior_Night_2017_12_22 web