Plymouth Church Organ & Sanctuary

  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Year: 2015
  • Client: Plymouth Congregational Church
  • Architect: LMN Architects
  • Photos: Rafn Company

The historic Plymouth Church sanctuary renovation project was part of a larger project to install a new $2 million dollar pipe organ. The organ is called Opus 140, built by renowned organ builder C.B. Fisk of Gloucester, MA. Work included:

  • Lowering the existing chancel which involved demolishing the existing structural concrete slab and replacing with a new slab.
  • Acoustical improvements that required raising the height of the ambulatory ceilings, adding CMU mass walls, and installing reflecting curved glass fiber reinforced gypsum panels for acoustics.
  • Addition of large swinging maple panel clad reflector screens on either side of the organ which double as both mass walls and doors to storage rooms on either side of the organ.
  • New oak flooring on the chancel and new Italian floor tile in the sanctuary; painting the existing walls and cleaning the stained glass.
  • New wall light sconces and ceiling light fixtures.
  • New sanctuary HVAC ductwork and diffusers, and organ blower and de-stratification ductwork.
  • Conversion of the glue laminated beam frame roof structure into a truss system after discovering multiple locations of shear failure in the original roof beams.
  • Replace all existing sanctuary light fixtures. This included new ornamental custom wall sconce light fixtures, the large “halo”ceiling fixture hanging from the high ceiling, and new can light fixtures in the aisle way ceilings. The “halo” fixture was assembled on the ground and hoisted into place resting on a large lifting trusses.

Midway through the project, cracks were noticed by Rafn in the existing glue laminated beams supporting the sanctuary roof. A review by the structural engineer, Swenson Say Faget, concluded that the beams were under designed by almost a factor of 10, and that the roof structure was gradually failing. The engineer came up with a clever solution to add steel king posts and tension rods and convert the roof beams into a truss system adding visual interest as well as physical strength. Rafn worked closely with the engineer to evaluate structural solutions and refine the means and methods for installation and tensioning, thereby keeping the repair costs and schedule delay to a minimum.

Back to the project index