Vision and Master Plan Updates


In early 2018, as we were moving toward completion of the numerous renovation projects around our campus, the focus turned to updating our main Worship Center, Chapel and other outdated or inadequate aspects of our campus. The WC and the Chapel were both in need of interior remodeling and had critical technological concerns. There had also been ongoing discussions about creating an obvious and attractive “front door” for UBC along with more open interior spaces to encourage the process of “becoming a family of Christ followers.” There was an expressed need to update the chapel entrance since it is the first visible entrance to the majority of people passing by UBC. There had also been discussions about how to bring our staff/admin offices together rather than having offices spread around the edges of the facility.
These items were not all equal in terms of immediate critical need, but taken together, it was clear that the next updates needed to be addressed with a Master Plan that would fit with our current and future vision for UBC and the church’s plan to reach and minister to the people of the Bay Area for the next 15-20 years or so.


  • What is the vision and plan for the future for worship at UBC?
  • If we intend to continue providing at least two services with differing worship styles and high levels of quality, how should the Worship Center and Chapel be configured to support those services?
  • What type of technology, seating, environment, lighting, would be appropriate for each room and each service?
  • If we had to close the Worship Center during a remodeling project, where would we meet to worship and how long might we have to relocate?
  • How many services would be needed to accommodate our church during a Worship Center remodel and what would be the impact on WBS and other programming?
  • Most importantly, if extensive changes were to be made, what would be the best path forward that would position UBC to reach and minister to the community for the next 15 to 20 years and beyond? 


The Next Gen Team

The Executive Council asked Dan Garrison and Steve Johnson to lead a task group to explore these questions. This “Next-Gen Team” was to be made up of representatives from both services, the EC chair, the Executive Director and the Senior Pastor and should be comprised of people who were willing to evaluate at a high level the needs of the facility and balance those needs with the future vision of UBC. They were asked to meet with the architect and others to evaluate the current master plan and bring back a suggested path forward for our campus.
The team members include the following: Dan Garrison, Steve Johnson, Butch Thompson, Brad Stiles, Matt Mellin, Rachel Spezzapria, Richard Simmons, Steve Laufer, David Mobley. 

Summary of an early presentation to the new team

Current Interior Building Map

Current Campus Overhead View

The next chapter in the facility life of UBC will be about our corporate worship and community space. It could be argued that one of the remaining unique and enriching experiences we offer as a church is a place to gather together with friends and family for corporate worship within an inspirational architectural space. This experience is not available on-line, on social media, at a coffee shop, or in a book. Having motivational, inspirational spaces that are the right size for the audience, the right environment for each style, and with the right amenities for the worship experience will serve UBC well for the next generation and continue to attract our community.

Corporate worship at UBC comes in more than one size and space and style. We gather to sit down for dinner and fellowship at events held in our "chapel" that is left over from the first 1977 sanctuary. The room is no longer specifically “a chapel,” it is often too small and cramped for mid-size events and activities, ill equipped, and aesthetically dated. We can do better, modestly, to enlarge, redesign, and rename an event space where people will want to be.
Our 1984 Worship Center is OK, but it is not great. It is no longer particularly inspirational, it needs to be updated aesthetically and technically, and it can do better to highlight the significant choral and orchestral talent offered by members of UBC for traditional worship. It is a good size for traditional worship especially when attendance is between 550 and 1000, but with long-standing deficiencies in some seating areas that we can fix if we decide to renovate. And if that room is to be dual-purposed (used for Traditional and Contemporary worship) there is a need for some significant modifications to modernize the space and address some long running frustrations with the functionality of the space.
In addition, we really do not have a space that is designed to complement contemporary worship or our larger student worship experiences. In fact, we don’t have an intermediate-sized worship or performance space that is suitable for audiences of 300-500 at all. The Chapel is too small, and Worship Center is either too large or traditional for many mid-size events. A mid-size worship and performance space could add value to the portfolio of our facility and would allow us to continue to reach our community more fully and offer a range of worship experiences that fit the modern worshiper or seeker. Youth worship, contemporary worship, and the hosting of community performances will benefit greatly.

Next, for over thirty years we have recognized, discussed, and planned to address our "front door" problem. We don't have one. In hindsight, the founders of forty plus years ago might have turned the building around if they had known it would be a future issue or if they had not been surrounded by only trees. In the 1990's during the construction of the Learning Center, the "new" master plan included a north facing entrance and welcome center that has yet to be realized. Now is the time to act on that multi-generational idea to create an inviting front door and a real welcome space. It should be transparent (literally), obvious, inviting and face the way people arrive at UBC. Recent discussions include a welcome center that will replace the old pastoral suite. As a side benefit, a new, east-wing office suite will be added to accommodate the entire ministry staff and in-turn free additional program space in the Learning Center. A win-win for visitors, members, staff, and programs.

For the last five years, we have successfully refitted the age-range educational spaces, added a mission training center, and opened up our grounds for community use with a beautiful pavilion. Now it’s time to turn to the heart of worship and fellowship with considerations for an east wing, new and renovated worship spaces, and a great welcome center. The result of this nearly ten years of investment in space for worship, teaching, serving, and community will be to create and continue the legacy of UBC and help fulfill our mission - Becoming a family of Christ followers, connecting people with God's Kingdom.


Initial charge to the Architect

As the group was assembled, the architect was asked to begin to evaluate what was then the current master plan using some of the current conversations, known issues and limitations for any temporary, major disruption of the Worship Center. Some conversations were already underway considering possible room modifications due to major equipment and technology concerns which had worsened over the previous couple of years.

Key Questions
  • Can we update the technology in the Chapel first and use that room as temporary worship space while the Worship Center is being remodeled? (The assumption was that the WC would be completely unavailable for some months.)
  • Should we consider expanding the Chapel and configuring it primarily as a contemporary worship space?
  • Should we keep the Chapel flexible for worship, events/dinners, and indoor Weekday Education “bad weather playground” and is that practical and manageable for the future?
  • Can the chapel be expanded and if so, how much and what would be an expected cost?


Initial parameters for architect consideration

The decision was made to start with the basic assumption that we would continue to use the Worship Center for both worship styles. Another initial assumption was that any revision of the Chapel would need to include the requirement that it seat 400+ comfortably, especially if it were to be used for multiple services during the closure of the Worship Center. The current fire marshal’s maximum seating allowance for that room is 300 and, typically, a room will only sustain about 80% of its attendance capacity for a worship service. With no expansion, that limitation would likely require us to provide as many as four morning worship services in the chapel temporarily to accommodate the current number and mix of worship attendees on any Sunday morning.
Here is an image of the Master Plan revised as of October 2013. The plan had been updated at the beginning of the Pavilion and Mission Training Center projects.

UBC Site Plan 2013

Below is a list of some of the requested considerations for the architect at that time. There was not the expectation that the architect would provide detailed, point by point answers for all of these considerations. The intention was for to evaluate these concepts and use the conclusions to form the basis for the initial draft of a new Master Plan.

1. Master Plan - Conduct a preliminary evaluation of the entire church complex and present one or more very basic master plan concepts around a unifying architectural theme. The exercise should consider the following:

  • Consider the heritage buildings from 1977 through 1984 as well as the Learning Center added in 1996 and the Master Plan concept and principles of that time
  • Consider recent Master Plan revisions and design elements
  • Consider the need for better entryways, public spaces, and pre-function spaces and the concept of more transparency to reduce our current "imposing edifice" issue
  • Consider the pastoral suite & choir room as "fair game" to be repurposed as an entryway that would symmetrically feed the old facility and any expansion to the east.
  • Relocation of offices and choir rehearsal space should be notionally considered.
  • Consider where the next general-purpose building would be placed (classrooms, recreational space, etc.), presumably but not exclusively to be located on the east side of the worship center
  • Recommend major phasing

2. Chapel and West Entryway, to include:

  • Seating for at least 400 (up from current max of 300)
  • Multi-purpose space with a performance stage
  • Retain the ability to have dinner tables and a variety of events in the space
  • Assume loose, stackable seats; perhaps rotate the stage to a corner if ceiling considerations allow
  • Evaluate the cost/value of removing the entire south wall interior structure, side rooms, back hall and stairs, etc.
  • Evaluate the cost/value of opening up the ceiling over the left and right bays and removing the columns; i.e., rebuilding the roof
  • Consider transforming the drive-through portico and entrance to be an architectural focal point and larger, more functional entry and gathering space
  • Consider the hallway, the small office suite on the north side of the hall, and the library as useable space (perhaps incorporating the library as a bookstore in the main entryway complex, for example)
  • If possible, consider a roof over the play area located between the chapel and the Learning Center to accommodate an indoor children's play area during bad weather.

3. Worship Center - Consider a significant architectural update of the worship space that fits the master plan, with the following considerations: 

  • Retain the traditional choir and orchestra stage space; and consider a small increase to the front of the stage by incorporating the front steps
  • Improve the design, stage functionality, and audio/video/lighting for contemporary worship (band) use as well
  • Consider retaining/recreating acoustics which benefit choral and instrumental use (~1.8 sec RT), but utilize current acoustic design and technology to improve intelligibility and the ability to deaden the room for contemporary music
  • Consider removing the peaked, suspended ceiling and going to a staggered cloud ceiling for acoustics and lighting infrastructure as well as re-lighting the room with LED house lights
  • Consider removing the dropped side (wing) ceiling areas to incorporate the full width of the space in the ceiling design. Bays currently house only the theatrical lights, ductwork, and catwalks; note that air-handlers sit farther back in the structure.
  • Most of the under-balcony seating is very poor quality, particularly the back 8-10 rows; consider eliminating some of those rows.
  • Consider the cost/value of removing the brick corner closets on the sides of the balcony to increase balcony seating; likewise, consider taking-in the upstairs side hallways as a means to increase the balcony seating
  • Consider rebuilding the front of the balcony to move it back (perhaps curved), thus exposing more of the main floor seating in the open volume
  • Consider the far-out notion of completing the amphitheater by raising the floor seating to "fill in" the center combined with losing the under-balcony seating and perhaps regaining some seats on the sides of the balcony


Conclusions and next steps

The initial conclusion from the architect was that it was possible to fit 400 seats in the chapel, but only if certain conditions were met. The two side classrooms would need to be removed along with the back hallway and the stage would need to be significantly reduced in size. Also, the pillars would need to be removed to clear sightlines. The recommendations were then passed to a structural engineer to consider the feasibility of modifying the room, removing the pillars and opening up the side wings.


Key Questions

While the chapel considerations were underway, the Next Gen Team also considered the initial requirements for remodeling the Worship Center and looked at options and requirements for refitting that room for a dual purpose (Traditional and Contemporary Worship). The EC had requested that the team also consider the possibility of a new Worship Center, depending on the cost and logistical comparisons. An earlier version of the Master Site Plan called for a new, larger Worship Center to be built in the “horseshoe” section of the current facility adjacent to the Fellowship Hall. Some questions the team considered at this point:

  • What would be the general estimate of cost for remodeling the WC as a “dual purpose” space?
  • What would be the estimated cost per sq. ft. to build a new worship center?
  • If remodeling the Chapel were possible and if it could be large enough, could we arrive at our top two choices for configuration?


Research and considerations

Current Chapel Configuration

Option A

Option B

Option C

As the Team was considering the three options above, they received word from the architect that there was no cost-effective way to remove the support pillars in the chapel or expand the side wings. Their initial estimate was that it would cost in excess of 2 million dollars to make those modifications. The cost to demolish the Chapel and rebuild it to accommodate seating of 400 would likely be similar.
The initial estimates for remodeling costs for the Worship Center and equipping it as a dual-purpose space were significantly more (at least $1-1.5 million more) than simply remodeling the WC and keeping it as a Traditional Worship space.
The initial cost of building a completely new worship space to the east of our facility was estimated to be around $2.5 million.
It was at this point that the conversation shifted, and the committee began to seriously consider other options. By doing a much more modest refit of the Chapel and remodeling the Worship Center as an updated Traditional Worship space, the cost savings would be roughly similar to the cost of a new Contemporary/multi-purpose building. The new, midsize worship space could be home to the Contemporary service, but could also be used to host the Traditional service while the WC was renovated and would be available for community events, Student Ministries worship events, etc. The new building could be built with minimal disruption to the normal Sunday schedule and could house our two existing main worship services during the WC remodel. That would eliminate the need to restructure WBS and add additional temporary worship services in the chapel or offsite.
In addition, adding a new welcome center/front entrance would fix some of our visibility/accessibility issues and provide a new, modern face to our facility. Adding an admin building would provide a better environment for our staff to function and build community together. These were not quick decisions but provide a summary of what led to the Next Gen Team’s recommendation to the Executive Council in October of 2018.
Click here to read that recommendation
Based on these recommendations, here is the current recommended Master Site Plan as of November 2019 and basic renderings that illustrate the proposed expansion.

Rendering 1, 2, 3, 4

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