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A vibrant Korean American congregation was experiencing severe overuse in their existing building, and so sought an addition that would facilitate multiple generations of growth. Bounded by large requirements for parking and surrounding wetlands, accommodating the largest Korean Church in Howard County within tight site restraints was a challenge. Through years of examining site options and building a detailed building program, though, a 400-seat performance hall, gym/multiuse space, grand lobby, and extensive classroom and meeting space were added – an ambitious transformation that celebrates the strength and size of the congregation while remaining flexible, modern, and unified.

The Chapel holds up to 500 people with both fixed and movable seating, meaning the space can flexibly accommodate multiple event sizes. Large windows, sophisticated audio/visual additions, and custom wall and ceiling treatments create a light filled, modern, sensitive space for worship. The Multipurpose room is also designed with flexibility in mind, as it holds up to 1000 people and accommodates both athletic and social events. For banquet events, up to 470 people can be seated in the space and a full-service kitchen designed for traditional cooking supports full congregation meals. On the Lower Levels of the building, 10 general use classrooms, an open amphitheater, and youth chapels support the younger generation of the congregation. Each classroom has two doors and an operable partition, creating the possibility of having 20 separate rooms. Wide hallways and large restrooms accommodate a large number of people learning and socializing, particularly in smaller group activities than the large scale congregating of the level above.


Bethel Korean Presbyterian Church


Ellicott City, Maryland


50,950 SF


Building Addition




Educational + Cultural




Internal Team: Charles Alexander, Patrycja Hollis, Jim Smith, Eric Lewis

Design Team: The Whiting Turner Contracting Company (Contractor), Henry Adams Consulting Engineers (MEP), Skarda and Associates, Inc. (Structural), Vogel Engineering (Civil), Avanti Restaurant Solutions, Inc. (Kitchen)

A new light filled lobby extends from the old entrance and is also accessed from two new front entries. As the original building lacked a lobby of any scale, this welcoming entry serves as a gathering and transitional space for congregants before and after worship services. The café and library sit side by side divided by an angled wall. Coffee and refreshments may be served, with easy access to the church’s book collection. The main hallway ends in a grand staircase that maximizes natural light with views into the nature at the rear of the site.