Idlewild Baptist Church Follows ’Master’s Plan’ With $116M Campus

Thu March 18, 2004 - Southeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni

Idlewild Baptist Church, with approximately 8,000 members, is building one of the largest worship centers in Florida on a 143-acre (57.2 ha) parcel of land on Van Dyke Road in Lutz, FL.

The church’s construction project, also called “The Master’s Plan,” will occur in two phases. Currently, construction of the $71-million-Phase One is under way and should be completed by 2005. Initial planning for Phase Two of the project has begun and construction will take place over the next six years.

RIPA & Associates Inc., the excavating contractor, has been performing site development for the project since the groundbreaking in November 2002. BECK Inc. is the general contractor hired to construct the building. The actual structure started to go vertical in August 2003.

Thomas C. Franchina of CBA Consulting Group is the senior project manager and owner’s representative.

“BECK and the various subcontractors and material suppliers are doing a great job so far,” said Franchina. “They have met and are exceeding our expectations, and the work force of over 300 men and women has great synergy, which results in a great working atmosphere.”

The first phase of the project involves approximately 445,000 sq. ft. (40,050 sq m) of building space, which includes a 95,000 sq. ft. (8,825 sq m) sanctuary that can seat 5,600 worshippers. The sanctuary will be 75 ft. (22.8 m) tall and will have a clear span, or open area, of 267 ft. (81 m) where there will be no floor to ceiling support.

Construction of the sanctuary requires custom-made beams, which are being supplied by the subcontractor Steel Fab Inc, Norcross, GA. According to Scott Campbell, BECK project manager, Steel Fab will “ship the beams in sections with guided escort.” Once the beams arrive at the site, subcontractor Derr Steel Erectors, Orlando, FL, will erect the beams.

To set the beams, explained Campbell, a Manitowoc 300-ton (272 t) 2250 Series 3 crawler crane was rented. The crane is outfitted with a 220-ft. (67 m) boom, weighs 800,000 lbs. (362,900 kg) and can lift up to 217,300 lbs. (98,566 kg).

“Our largest piece, a section of the roof truss, weighs 135,000 pounds,” said Campbell, noting that the company is about “to mobilize a 90-to 100-ton crane within a week.”

The floor plan of the first phase also consists of two educational buildings and a 36,000-sq. ft. (3,345 sq m) Gatheria. In addition, the finished project will have 15,000 sq. ft. (1,394 sq m) of rehearsal area for the 210-voice choir and the 75-piece orchestra, 35,000 sq. ft. (3,252 sq m) of administrative offices and 78,000 sq. ft. (7,246 sq m) of miscellaneous-use space.

The land development portion of the project has two distinct construction phases: on site and off site. The on-site phase includes tree barricading, silt screening, removal of designated trees and debris, site clearing and grubbing and ditch/swale grading.

Site grading during this phases consists of building pads, concrete curbs, roadway sub-grade, base and asphaltic concrete wearing surfaces and sidewalks. Work during the on-site phase will also include storm water drainage pipes, structures and appurtenances in addition to potable water and fire protection distribution piping including valves, hydrants and all necessary paraphernalia. Utilities for the entire site, sanitary sewer collection piping and manholes will also be completed during this phase.

The pools and drainage facilities, part of the on-site land development phase, were completed last summer. Workers removed 250,000 yds. (228,600 m) of dirt for the retention ponds, located off the northwest and southwest banks of Lake Reinheimer.

The off-site construction phase of the land development involves the complete development of a connection road to Dale Mabry and Crystal Lake from the main entrance of the new facility. In addition, this phase also incorporates the expansion of the Van Dyke intersection at Dale Mabry and the construction of turn lanes at the Van Dyke entrance.

Phase Two of the building construction, still in its initial planning stage, is expected to cost $45 million, and it is anticipated that it will be built over the next six years.

It consists of 344,000 sq. ft. (32,000 sq m) of building space, including a future 55,000-sq ft. (5,110 sq m) fellowship hall and dining area, a 15,000-sq ft. (1,394 sq m) chapel and a 24,000-sq-ft. (2,230 sq m) ancillary building. There also will be a children’s building at the completion of this phase.

Phase Two construction will involve the construction of a 100,000-sq.-ft. (9,290 sq m) family life center, which will provide access to various sports and exercise-related activities.

Additionally, the family life center will house a game room, snack area, fireside room, welcome/reception room, arts and crafts room, and a nursery and childcare facility. The building also will incorporate space for administrative offices, maintenance/ janitorial equipment and storage/supply areas. Finally, there will be a sauna and whirlpool area and, outside, there will be a six-lane 82.5-foot lap pool and a playground.

A comprehensive study of how the building is to be used, dubbed “Street to the Seat” by Franchina and a pastor at Idlewild, has been conducted. Meetings with the pastoral staff and resource providers were held, and the study determined how the church members, some 8,000 people in a matter of hours, will walk through the facility. They call this foot traffic methodology. Not only did the study look at foot traffic inside the building, but it also determined where people are driving from to get to the facility and where they will park and catch a tram to the facility.

“This is a gigantic facility,” exclaimed Franchina. “The ’Street to the Seat’ is basically another phase of programming used for integrating the old campus plan and the existing ministry functions into the new facility.”

According to Franchina, Idlewild’s new facility will be a fully-integrated, “Smart Building.” What he calls, “the new wave of construction.”

Using intelligence systems, the new technology will have features such as Web-based access to control centers. The control centers will manage building automation, electrical and mechanical systems, security, and various other systems. Sieman’s was contracted to develop a full building management system for the integration of the new facility.

Schwab, Twitty & Hanser (STH) Architectural Group, Inc. completed the Master’s Plan design for Idlewild Baptist Church. STH is headquartered in West Palm Beach, FL, and has an office in Tampa.

BECK Inc. is headquartered in Dallas, while its regional Tampa office is handling the Idlewild project. RIPA & Associates Inc. is based in Tampa.