Three Very Different Domes
When Living Word Bible Church in Mesa, Arizona opened its new Monolithic Domes a little more than a year ago, thousands came. They filled the church’s 2000-seat sanctuary and overflowed its 860-space parking lot.
Architect Rick Crandall, who designed the 150′ × 40′ domes, said, "Many came out of curiosity — dome architecture was a novelty for this conservative, upper middle-class community. They wanted to see what it was all about, and they weren’t disappointed.
“Although they’re the same in size, Living Word’s domes are not the same on the inside. Each is unique,” Rick continued. “The sanctuary-auditorium dome is a sky shell with a black interior that erases structural lines and makes it possible to create just about any environment you may want — anything from an awe-inspiring starry sky to a verdant jungle. It’s ideal for regular church services, as well as special events.”
A second dome sports a classic white interior. It houses classrooms, a fellowship hall, a 100-seat cafe or dinner theatre and a gymnasium.
But the dome many visitors find most appealing and unforgettable is the children’s theme dome. On its outside, it resembles a medieval castle with a moat and dragon, and on the inside it’s Disneyland’s Main Street.
Theme Dome Boosts Church Attendance
John Hrimnak, vice president of marketing at the church, said, “The Children’s Theme Dome is one of the primary reasons why people try out and actually stay at our church. When kids are little, it’s really all about them, and much of that philosophy applies to selecting a church — as strange as that may sound. It’s about the kids and whether they want to become a part of it. That has really been one of the biggest selling points of our church.”
John’s responsibilities include organizing tours for first-time visitors. He said, "I’m really in touch with Why did you visit? or more importantly Why are you staying? or What do you like about the church?
“And the kids,” John continued, “when they first come in, they not only want to see the theme dome because their friends have told them, or they have heard about it or seen it, but now they’re asking to come back to church every week — which is just not something that normally happens with kids. I think that illustrates the importance that the church places on children and that, in turn, is important to their parents.”
Domes Host A Full Range Of Activities
Something is almost always going on in each of the domes. In addition to church services, annual conferences such as “Faith Explosion 2002” with hard-to-book, globally recognized speakers and thousands of attendees, are held in the sanctuary-auditorium dome. At other times, smaller groups hold gatherings, concerts and other church-related functions.
Meanwhile classes and get-togethers for everyone from pre kindergartners to senior citizens meet in the other two domes. These include Club Coffee Grounds, a coffee-house style church with Switch Rock, its own house band; the Business Connection, a network for church members who own or operate local businesses; and various other ministries.
Spacious Foyer and Garden Paths
A central core or huge lobby with a flat roof and 17,000 square feet of internal space connects the domes and houses administrative offices, a bookstore and restrooms. Outside, garden paths meander through a park with a waterfall and a gently flowing stream.
Audio Systems Enhance Living Word Bible Church
The audio system and acoustics took expert planning. Porter Falcon, president of Falcon Audio-Video, Inc. who designed and installed the systems, said that because the sanctuary and theme domes have their own unique uses, their audio systems had to be tailored to fit those uses.
Sanctuary/Auditorium Dome Has Near-Perfect Sound
In its 2000-seat sanctuary/auditorium, Living Word conducts televised religious services, as well as concerts, theatrical productions, conferences and conventions.
“So,” said Porter, "we knew that the sanctuary/auditorium needed an audio system that would handle full frequency music and yet would have extraordinary speech intelligibility. That’s very difficult to achieve within the same sound system.
“And that’s one of the things that makes this system so outstanding,” Porter continued. “When you go into the sanctuary as a listener to a speech, there are no holes in the sound — ever. Yet it has full music capabilities, from the lowest bass to the highest treble. I wouldn’t call it perfect, but I would call it almost perfect sound.”
Basic audio equipment in the sanctuary includes a central cluster of four systems over the pulpit and a delayed speaker system in the audience area. In addition to the audio, Porter and his staff designed a full function, theatrical lighting system with standard and computer-driven lights, as well as projection and television systems for the sanctuary dome.
Note: This article was first presented in August 2002.