Bellevue First Congregational Church

Bellevue, WA


Beverley Shimmin

IES Puget Sound 2017 Gloria Koch Leonidas Illumination Award, Award for Interior Lighting Design

Awards and recognition:

  • AIA 2017 Award from IFRAA/Faith & Form for Bellevue First Congregational Church in Religious Architecture: Re-Use/Re-Purpose. Presented at AIA National, NY, NY.
  • Outstanding Project Award for Interior Commercial by NWCB, Northwest Walls, Ceiling Boards for Bellevue First Congregational Church, with KHS&S Contractors, May 8.
  • Seattle Section Illumination Award for Interior Design for Bellevue First Congregational Church, with Blanca Lighting, April 27, 2017.
  • NAIOP 2016 Renovation of the Year Finalist, for Bellevue First Congregational Church, Seattle, WA, September, 2016.
  • AIA 2015 Award from IFRAA/Faith & Form for Bellevue First Congregational Church in Religious Architecture: Unbuilt Work Category. Presented at AIA National, Philadelphia, PA.
This 49,000sf adaptive reuse project transformed a bland 1970s office building into a light filled inspiring place of worship.  The directive criteria to the design team was to create an environmentally friendly “space of awe”. There was a desire to improve on previously poor task light levels in the sanctuary that strained elderly parishioners, while also adding flexible accent lighting for pastors and choir. Throughout the design process, detailed analysis was performed to ensure appropriate levels were reached. Using a theatrical lighting approach, dramatic natural light is balanced with layers of illuminated surfaces and identity elements, elevating the architectural forms and volumes. Dramatic uplighting of pipe organs, accents and sparkle from pendants add points of visual interest.
The 40ft high sanctuary space is constructed of a folded plane of cross laminated timber panels.  Ceilings and altar wall are uplit by architecturally integrated fixtures to reinforce architectural volumes and provide visual comfort.  The space inspired the custom design of dropped architectural rings with integral light fixtures and glass pendants suspended through the center. Along with housing downlights and adjustable accents, the ring creates support points for AV equipment.  This unique design approach, along with using long life sources, facilitated ease of maintenance and reduced the energy need for high wattage sources. Integrated architectural and theatrical controls were provided and operated by user-friendly wall-stations for church staff while AV staff had portable, addressable control stations. The chapel and lounge are quietly illuminated for contemplation.