Why is the church renovating and revitalizing Fellowship Hall?
- Fellowship Hall is feeling its age, with out-of-date bathrooms and worn-out kitchen and a design that no longer serves our congregation and community well. The systems are aging. In the kitchen, cabinets are falling apart and the design no longer works for the variety of church events and community groups that use the Hall. The bathrooms are not accessible. The Hall itself is dark, worn and uninviting.
What has been done so far?
- So far, we have formed a Fellowship Hall Committee, developed a “Wish List”, hired an architect to develop a visionary plan, scoped costs, and hired a Fundraising Consultant to do a feasibility study.
What factors were considered in the design that has been presented?
- We understood at an early stage in the design process that we inherited an incredible, bold vision from the families that moved the Church from E. Blithedale to our current campus. These visionary Church founding families saw the campus oriented in alignment to Mt. Tamalpais, securely above the flood zone and able to serve the wider community in ministry – not just the Sunday congregation.
We inherited this spirit from our founding families and have sought to modernize the original Sanctuary that now serves as our Fellowship Hall allowing it to continue to serve our needs and also serve the needs of our community. We prioritized the need to modernize the kitchen – which no longer functions effectively. We focused on fixing the bathrooms – which are hurting our ability to serve the community. We chose to offer a lighter, well lit, clean design for the main part of Fellowship Hall that re-aligns the building to be open to the Garden between the Sanctuary and the Hall.
What was the thinking behind the size of the kitchen?
- One of the reasons the Trustees engaged architect Jim Goring is because he has decades of experiences designing social halls, kitchens and sanctuaries for churches. Jim determined that our current kitchen is larger than is needed and that a slightly smaller, smartly designed kitchen is not only appropriately sized, but will actually have a better work flow, storage design and a better ability to serve food.
What is the thinking behind the bathroom design?
- The Fellowship Hall group strongly feels that offering gender neutral and ADA (Americans with Disability Act) quality bathrooms is vital for Fellowship Hall to be current and to serve for decades to come. The new individual stalls will be floor-to-ceiling, allowing for maximum privacy. The common sink area allows us to maximize the number of stalls offered.
What is happening to the flooring in the hall?
- The flooring for the hall will be engineered wood, which will be installed over a vapor barrier above the concrete slab. Engineered wood provides the benefits of durability and stability.
Will the revitalized Fellowship Hall be energy efficient?
- Yes! All of the skinny single-pane windows will be replaced with dual pane, energy efficient windows. The proposed glass doors and walls will also be dual pane, with shades to help regulate light. A new air conditioning and heating system (HVAC) will be installed. The new windows and doors will all be able to be opened, thus allowing for maximum air flow in order to potentially minimize use of the HVAC systems. In addition, the current Fellowship Hall on-demand water heater will be retained and it has the highest energy ratings.
I’m concerned about the impact of global warming and sea level rise on our property, especially Fellowship Hall. How has that been addressed?
- Currently the building is above the FEMA 1 flood risk zone. These are maps are updated occasionally so it is possible that could change in 30-50 years. Our proposed project will hopefully allow the building to function for another 50-100 years. Most scientific analysis of current sea level rise predicts 1/8″ per year. So over 100 years, the sea level could increase as much as 12.5″ (1 foot). We are currently just over 10 feet above the current sea level, so under that scenario we would be 9 feet above in 100 years.
We know that many billions of dollars of real estate in Mill Valley is currently closer to sea level than our church. We are confident that any needed solutions will be developed and deployed long before any threat to the church property and Fellowship Hall.
What about the potential for water pressure to come up through the floor?
- This can be a concern in areas that have high ground water and poor site drainage – our buildings were placed above the surrounding area of the site so as long as we have good surface drainage, so it is unlikely that this will be an issue. The best way to prevent damage if this does cause a concern (this is done in basements in Mill Valley even if we don’t think there is an issue but just to be extra safe), is to install a vapor barrier above the slab and then vinyl plank floor that won’t rot if it gets humid or damp.
What will happen to the building users, such as twelve-step groups, Boy Scouts, etc., during construction?
- We are on top of it! Facilities manager Dave Erskine already has a plan for using the sanctuary and narthex, Rooms 1 and 2 and Connell Lounge during the construction time. We anticipate that all groups and current uses can be accommodated for the year or so of construction. This may mean additional wear-and-tear on those spaces and we know that this is something we have to do during the relatively short construction period.
Are we asking our building users to help with the expenses of the renovations?
- Every group that meets in our buildings are renters, therefore, it is inappropriate to solicit funds from groups and organizations. However, if individual members of any group that uses the church wishes to donate, that will be welcome. But we will not be asking people who already pay rent to contribute as a group.
Did the Fellowship Hall building committee consider adding any housing to the renovation?
- The committee did explore options for adding housing on a second story. Because the Fellowship Hall has a slab design and not a foundation, adding a second story would require a foundation, thus a total tear-down and rebuild of the building. A professional did a cost analysis of such a design and it would be prohibitive in both cost and scope at this time.