The Hunt Building has served us well for decades. The Campus Vision Team originally planned for its renovation to achieve several goals: create more adult classrooms; consolidate all offices into one collaborative area; enhance Elliott Hall for worship and other uses; improve flow; and substantially increase gathering space. These goals, however, could not be met due to the building’s structural configuration, primarily the widely varying ceiling heights in Elliott Hall. And performing renovations to attempt to work around these limitations would still not solve a key long-term challenge with which the Campus Vision Team was tasked—providing a large amount of on-campus parking.
After considering many different options, the Campus Vision Team eliminated all but one because they were too costly, too complicated, or presented too many potential obstacles to future growth. The one option that best met all the competing priorities, could be accomplished within our existing footprint, and offered an opportunity to transform HP Pres for the next 100 years was creating the Hunt Center.
The Hunt Center creates a new front door to our campus with a grand entrance and patio along University Boulevard that echoes the one in front of the Sanctuary. This entrance leads to a large, light-filled gathering space that also provides a direct, indoor connection to the Sanctuary and children’s building. The Hunt Center will also create a new, safer drop-off location on the west side of the building along Shannon Lane. This drop-off point will improve traffic flow and provide much more convenient and direct access for vehicles traveling to the campus along McFarlin Boulevard.
HP Pres is blessed with an abundance of outdoor garden and play spaces for the young and young at heart. The Transform initiative will make these areas even better, safer, and more inviting. We are updating the best of our existing facilities, and creating naturescapes that provide exciting areas for the next generation. With the other modifications and additions to the Highland Kids Ministry Building, the interior courtyard and playground areas will also be safely and securely enclosed.
A gym will be located in the heart of our Kids and Student ministries. The 6000 sq. ft. gym, incorporating incredible amounts of natural light, will be ideally located for easy access for schools, kids, students, and guests.
Located on the second floor of the Hunt Center and connected to our adult library and discipleship rooms, the Hunt Music Room will be acoustically engineered to provide an amazing home for our music ministry. Additionally, this space will provide a much-needed location for medium-sized ministry gatherings throughout the week and on Sundays.
The Hunt Center mitigates a major, longstanding issue for our congregation—the lack of safe, secure, on-campus parking—by providing a two-level underground garage with approximately 150 spaces. The underground garage will substantially improve access to all parts of our campus, as well as remove a significant amount of traffic from neighborhood streets. Ingress and egress for the garage will be located at the southwest corner of the building near McFarlin Boulevard, with the security door and down ramp contained completely within the footprint of the building, thus hiding it from view of the surrounding neighborhood. Access to the floors above will be available via two convenient elevators.
One of the most important elements of the Hunt Center will be its ability to provide a more cohesive, integrated, and welcoming experience by improving the flow from one end of our campus to the other. Removing tight doorways, creating direct, indoor access to the Sanctuary no matter where you are on campus, and generating a new connectedness to the Highland Kids Ministry Building will eliminate barriers to ministry and help create an environment that is more attractive to all generations.
The new north entrance (facing University Boulevard) and entire eastern side of the Hunt Center will provide a wealth of vibrant, light-filled spaces that connect seamlessly to the Rhodus Garden outside. The additional connector will dramatically improve the ease of getting from the west side of the campus to both the Sanctuary and children’s building. Two large gathering spaces on the first level will include a grand staircase, a welcome station, coffee bar, and furnished conversation spots—all bathed in the light provided by walls of glass, magnificently framing the western facade of the Sanctuary. This spacious gathering area will substantially enhance the ability for all generations to gather and build community and also serves as the point of entry to an all new reoriented worship space in Elliott Hall. The total space for gathering and passage increases from 8,200 square feet to approximately 13,200 square feet.
The Hunt Center also more than doubles the number of adult classrooms, from 5 to 11, and sizes them more appropriately for current and future ministry requirements. Perhaps more significant, they will all be located together on one level above Elliott Hall with ample gathering spaces, including a balcony. The Library will also be located on this level. The Hunt Center will enable all staff to be consolidated in new, modern offices on the third level that will enhance collaboration, teamwork, and creativity.
The Hunt Center will transform Elliott Hall into a bright, fresh, and open room that is designed to enhance the worship experience and to provide critical multi- purpose space for our largest gatherings and conferences. A raised stage on the west wall will enable a more comfortable and intimate seating arrangement for worship, while the entrance to Elliott Hall will be located along the east side, which will bathe the space with natural light from the new, wide glass-walled corridor just outside its doors. With high ceilings throughout the space, new audio and video systems, an adjacent catering kitchen, and direct indoor access from all parts of our campus, the new Elliott Hall will provide even more, and better, opportunities for all generations to worship, gather, and connect.
Our student environments will be transformed from the ground up to support the ministry that is taking place today. This part of our campus will include flexible, multi-use spaces that help to usher middle and high school students into deeper, more impactful ministry opportunities. From the new, visible, and welcoming entrance to the greatly expanded gathering space, the Bell Center will be reimagined to build the next generation of Christ followers.
A fresh, new, and larger welcome and check-in center has been created inside the circle drive entrance off Park Street, enabling a more logical and direct flow to Highland Kids classrooms. Additional security systems were installed to ensure the safety of our children.
All classrooms received substantial updates and renovations including new lighting, carpet, paint, furniture, and audio-visual equipment. Not only will this enable us to provide a more welcoming space for our Early Childhood and Highland Kids ministries, but it will enhance the educational environment for the Childhood Development Center, Highland Park Presbyterian Day School, and Hillier School.