Re-Imagining the Barth House: Phase I A New vision for Campus Ministrty

1. Project Overview

Phase I of this project aims to address the question “How can the Episcopal Church help to make the University of Memphis community a more livable and more well community?” The Episcopal Church is the steward of the Barth House building and property at 409 Patterson Ave, Memphis, Tennessee, 38111. This question is being posed with the Barth House in mind.

In August of 2015, a committee was formed to address this question. The goal of the committee was to create an architectural concept that would address the currency of wellness as defined by Eric Law’s work Holy Currencies: Six Blessings for Sustainable Missional Ministries. The group’s task was to consider how architecture and the currency of space could be used to generate wellness within the University of Memphis community. To do this, the committee was tasked with building relationships with neighbors, students, staff, faculty, and identifying key stake holders.

This report first explores key issues within the University of Memphis community and then makes an architectural program recommendation for the use of the Barth House space. The report was generated as a result of the work of this group that met for eleven Tuesdays from September 8th through November 24th from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

1.1 Membership

The committee consisted of James Williamson, Associate Professor of Architecture; Darren Elzie, English Department; Holley McGehee, neighbor; Curt Cowan, neighbor and parent of student at Campus school; Laurel Cannito, undergraduate student and member of the Sustainability Office; Ashley Skrabut, graduate student of architecture; Noah Campbell, neighbor; and John Burruss, representing the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee. The committee was made up of members of Grace St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, St. John’s Episcopal Church, and Church of the Holy Communion.

1.2 History of Barth House and Campus Ministry

The Barth House was originally constructed to be the student Episcopal center in 1967. In 2007, St John’s Episcopal Church allowed their Curate, the Rev. Terry Street, to serve as chaplain to the University. In 2008, Street left to serve a parish in Cordova, Tennessee. In February, 2009 the Barth House was closed due to budget constraints, bringing Episcopal campus ministry at The University of Memphis to a close.

In 2009, while there was no official campus ministry presence, the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer continued to meet in the Barth House on Sunday mornings. In 2011, Redeemer closed its doors and the congregation did not continue to meet. The utilities at the time were turned off and the Barth House was winterized as it was no longer being utilized.

In 2013, an attempt to restart the college ministry at the University of Memphis was begun. A group of students met at the Barth House in the fall of 2013 and for two months in the spring, of 2014, but the building was inadequate for gathering. While the Barth House did have electricity, running water and heating and cooling were an issue and the group chose to meet elsewhere.

1.3 Existing Campus Ministry

The campus ministry restart in 2011 has continued to be successful, however has discontinued its use of the Barth House. A group of students from Rhodes College and the University of Memphis have been gathering at Garibaldi’s Pizza on Walker Avenue on Wednesday evenings during the school year, to meet for dinner, conversation, and Holy Eucharist. Average attendance for those gatherings is six students and three volunteers with a pool of about twenty-five young people who come in and out of the community at different times. The ministry is entirely volunteer driven.

2. Data

The main approach to gathering data has been identifying key voices and stakeholders at each of the eleven meetings, for the members of the committee to seek out questions through interviews and conversations, and to gather each week to report on the findings. The data used for this proposal has come from University reports, the strategic plan of the University of Memphis, key interviews with faculty and vice-presidents of the University, a small survey to the general student populations, a 2015 Master’s of Science of Clinical Nutrition Project, conversations with students, and conversations with neighbors.

2.1. Stakeholder Interviews

2.1.1 College Ministry

Members of different campus groups including the Baptist Student group center, located two blocks south of the Barth House, the college group from 2nd Presbyterian Church and the Catholic Campus ministry group were interviewed. The most significant finding was an overwhelming number of students who attend a free dinner on Friday nights hosted by the Baptist student group. Access to food is high priority of all student groups including the Methodist, Episcopal, and Catholic programs.

2.1.2 School of Music Meeting

In November, the committee met with Dr. John Cheigo, Director of the School of Music. Dr. Chiego indicated that as Director of School of Music, he has encouraged his students to cultivate relationships with the outside community. Currently, his students have musical performances in outside venues most nights during the school year. He saw great potential in the concert space for students at UofM, especially in a space where seating for 50-70 would fill a need, not currently met by the larger Harris Auditorium. The location next to the Honors building is incredibly desirable. While the school of music is set to build new space, it currently does not have any small performance space that is suitable for undergraduate and graduate student performances and being slightly off campus, yet close by would be very desirable.

2.1.3 School of Public Health Meeting

In November, an interview was conducted with Dr. Brook Harmon, Associate Professor of Public Health. Harmon’s interests includes working within faith communities around healthy eating initiatives. She has been working to secure grants to do healthy eating programs in congregational settings with children and she would find value in having a teaching kitchen where youth camps and programs could meet. She currently rents space to run her community programs. She suggested the Nursing School and the School of Public Heath could be resources to run programing through a proposed wellness center. In addition, Harmon worked at a communal kitchen for students and staff at the University of South Carolina.

2.2 Surveys

2.2.1 Email Survey

In a blind survey that went out to all undergraduate students via a campus wide email from the University, we found there to be a significant student population interested in the proposed changes and concept of Barth House. While the response was not overwhelming, feedback was received from 27 students.

The survey found that 55.6% of students would be very interested in locally sourced farm to table food options, with 25.9% being slightly interested. 29.6% of students would be very likely to use a communal kitchen. 22.2% of students would be very interested in food preparation and cooking classes and 55.6% would be slightly interested.

2.2.2 Master’s Project Survey

A student survey by graduate student Allison Moore was conducted in 2015. The survey was created in two formats both online using the program Qualtrics and distributed in program format. The survey was distributed to the head of residential life and the head of Greek life. The paper forma was given to events at the Fogelman College of Business open house and the Student Health Fair.

The survey was completed by 178 students. Out of the 178, 67% were female and 33% were male. The sample population where mainly undergraduate students (81%), with the others being graduate/PhD students (15%) and faculty and staff (4%).

While Ms. Moore’s research was completed to justify creating a cookbook to improve the nutritional health of the University of Memphis, her data helps justify the re-visioning of the Barth House. Moores report says, “The most popular responses to the tools that college students need to eat healthy were: money, the equipment to prepare the food, nutrition education/resources and access to fresh food.

The most popular topics that students would like to see in a healthy cookbook were: on-the-go foods, meals that can be prepared ahead of time, healthy alternatives, breakfast items and basic cooking techniques. Additional topics that students wrote in the “other” section were as follows: meals for one, 30 minutes or less meals, budget friendly meals, vegan, vegetarian, microwave meals, gluten-free, frozen meals, slow cooker meals, to-go lunches and Halal foods.”

2.3 University Demograpics

2.4.5 Campus Services: Residence Life

During the 2012 – 2013 year, Campus Services successfully housed 2,327 students in undergraduate (88% of capacity –down 8% Due to a decline in the freshman class), 108 in Graduate Student and Family Housing (88% of capacity).

2.5 Dining Assessment

2.5.1 Dining Options & Activity

2.5.2 Campus Services: Dining Services

During the 2012-2013 academic year, Residence Life and Dining Services had dining sales of $10.2 Million. Aramark sold 1,641 meal plans and $7.6 million was collected in Dining Dollars revenue; about $1.1 million was secured as commission for the sales.

2.6 Summation of the Data

There are several key observations about the data. As more and more students become concerned with the quality of food available on campus, the needs of the students, staff, and faculty are unmet by the current proposed dining solutions. The Dining Assessment (2.5) illustrates a clear concentration of dining options towards the center of campus. As housing is developed on Highland Avenue, the Barth House will become more centrally located and could be a vital meeting space for students to gather around food.

Of the dining options, none are particularly health focused and have limited ability to respond to dietary restriction. While the hours of campus dining are flexible (7:30am-8:00pm), costs and health concerns are the biggest factor of concern for students. Currently, over 2000 students, live on campus, however the ability to cook, prepare, and store food is not a priority of the campus.

3. Proposed Solution

This proposal suggests a major renovation of Barth House to create a community wellness center that would focus on food, music, and the arts. With a current need for performance space, the wellness center would provide a place for musicians and artists to showcase their talents in a small setting. By providing adequate performance space, the center would be able to develop and cultivate relationships with people outside of the Episcopal Church thus participating in a larger societal conversation on wellness.

In addition, the center would provide places for the University to run wellness and nutrition classes, summer camps, and a space for students to engage with each other and a campus chaplain in a non-threatening and non-overtly religious setting. This is critical in an emerging secular time where the Church aims to build relationships with young adults and provide space for spiritual growth.

This proposed solution would also provide the appropriate space for a re-imagined campus ministry. Many of the successful campus ministry programs across the country are programs that gather around the preparation of a meal with Eucharist, such as at St. Paul’s in Delray Beach, Florida, at the University of Pennsylvania, at St. Michel’s & All Angels Church in Portland, and St. Lydian’s in Brooklyn, New York.

4. Holy Currencies: A Cycle of Blessings

Holy Currencies is the model for ministry development in the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee, adopted by the Bishop and Council in 2015. The currencies (resources entered into a system of exchange) of place and time, truth telling, wellness, gracious leadership, relationships, and money, all when in play within the ministry, increases the ministries ability to be successful, missional, and sustainable.

4.1 Currency of Place & Time

The Ministry will take place at 409 Patterson Avenue, located in the heart of the University of Memphis corridor. The Barth House is located on the major North-South throughway of campus, Patterson, which runs from Central to Walker.

The committee has already spent 154 hours in group conversations. The principle architect, graduate assistant, and project coordinator, have contributed an estimated 75 additional hours for a total of 229 hours.

4.1.2 Barth House Existing Conditions

4.1.2.1 Zoning and Building Code Compliance

According to a 2014 environmental assessment, “The Barth House is zoned CMU-1 (Commercial Mixed Use- Light Commercial/ Non-profit) and is considered appropriate for the site’s intended use.” The building code and zoning implications of the addition of a commercial kitchen and possible seismic retrofitting, if any, should be checked with the local Building Official. (If necessary, it may be advisable to consider reclassification of the building occupancy as a “church.”)

4.1.2.2 Building Envelope

The existing building, constructed in 1967, is 48 years old. In general, the structure appears to be sound. The roof may need to be replaced due to its age and since there is evidence of leaks in both the Great Hall and Commons. If the roofing insulation is found to be inadequate, new insulation should be provided. The north wing of the building is of brick cavity wall construction with wood joist roof framing. The walls probably contain at least some insulation. The walls of the south wing, the Great Hall, appear to be of uninsulated solid brick construction with a concrete slab on grade floor. All windows and doors appear to be glazed with uninsulated glass, which will result in increased heating and cooling costs, as well as penetration of external noise into the Great Hall.

4.1.2.3 Interior Finishes

Interior finishes are generally in good condition given the age of the building, but are deteriorated in some places due to roof leaks and the inoperative HVAC system, which encourages the growth of mold. The finishes are dated, however, and it is recommended that the design of new interior finishes be included in the Phase 2 project scope.

4.1.2.4 Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

According to the original Specifications, the HVAC system consists of two separate systems consisting of air-handling units with direct expansion and hot water coils, air-cooled condenser-compressor units, electric duct heaters, a hot water boiler, and miscellaneous associated equipment. The system has been inoperative for some time. A thorough investigation of the system by the Mechanical Engineering consultant is recommended to determine whether the system can be reused or should be replaced, including evaluation of energy efficiency and the possible impact of mechanical noise on the acoustics of the Great Hall.

4.1.2.5 Electrical

According to the original Specifications, the Electrical system includes a 120/208 volt, 3-phase, 4-wire, 60 cycle distribution system consisting of a main panel board, lighting, switches, dimmers, wiring and conduit. Light fixtures include surface-mounted fluorescent fixtures, recessed and surface-mounted incandescent fixtures, and exit lights. Investigation of the system by the Electrical Engineering consultant is recommended to determine its condition and suitability for continued operation and energy efficiency.

4.1.2.6 Asbestos

A 2014 environmental assessment found asbestos in window glazes, hot water piping insulation, and black mastic beneath vinyl tile flooring. These materials were found to be in “good condition” and should be maintained in place. (The removal of friable asbestos materials is governed by environmental regulations and should be avoided, if possible.)

4.1.2.7 Area Summary: Principal Existi

4.2 Currency of Truth

There have been several realities we have learned from the surveys. Students do not have access to “decent food on campus” or healthy food is typically unaffordable for students. The strategic plan of the University has carefully located dining options through fast-food restaurants and cafeterias, but that doesn’t meet the overall health needs of students. Through developing a system of participation where students could volunteer if they couldn’t afford to pay for a membership, a way of responding to the health concerns of the student, staff, and faculty body could be met.

Music and the arts are also necessary for the creative advancement of society. A space where student artists can share their worldview through creativity will help the greater societal truth emerge in the larger social conversation.

4.3 Currency of Wellness

Access to food and food preparation are necessary for the wellbeing of students. Arts and music flowing through a community are signs of wellness as well. By creating a space where the arts, creative conversation, community organizing, and food justice all wed together, a center could be established that focused on the transformation of a more livable community.

Wellness will be fostered through this emerging project through:

  • Providing a space where relationships can be cultivated, specifically a space where faculty, staff, and students can gather and share ideas on common ground.
  • Providing the capacity to inform and develop the responsibility of self-care and physical wellbeing through access to healthier food options, educational opportunities around preparation and nutrition, and the capacity to prepare meals for time spent on campus.
  • Developing a space where music and art may be showcased and developed in order to nurture a healthy spiritual and emotional wellbeing.
  • Providing a safe space to study and gather after hours, which in turn will make the University corridor a more vibrant and livable community.

4.4 Currency of Gracious Leadership

The project will require an Executive Director, likely a paid staff member who has the gifts to develop, cultivate, and maintain relationships with key stakeholders in the University of Memphis community including the Public Health and Music schools. This leader would be responsible for the overall day to day operation of the physical plant, some of the programing, the development of a donor database, and maintaining donor relationships.

The School of Nonprofit Administration has been invited to help the Barth House committee to envision how best to set up up the leadership of the project. One possibility would be to create both a nonprofit board to govern the Barth House project under a separate 501c3 and to create a visioning committee to help imaging the growing program and possibility for community engagement.

4.5 Currency of Relationship

Key Stakeholder Relationships developed through this process are:

  • Ruth Hooker-Williams, Director of the University of Memphis Dietetics program
  • John Chiego, Director of the School of Music
  • Brook Harmon, Associate Professor of Public Health
  • Michael J. Fisher of Fisher and Associates, Inc., Food Service Consultants
  • TK Buchanan, Community Safety Liaison, University District
  • Daniel Bureau, Director, Student Learning and Assessment and Commencement Office, Special Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs, University of Memphis
  • Amelia Mayhai – Manager of the Sustainability Office funded by the Green Fee Initiative of the University of Memphis
  • Jonathan Kaplan, Owner of Brother Junipers
  • Mack Edwards, Owner & Chef of the Farmer
  • The Rev. Michael Pence, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church

As proposed, the ministry would also develop a network of students that would support the day to day operations. Working with the Sustainability Office at the University of Memphis has been key. Similar to a movement around Co-Ops and time-banking, students would be granted access to the communal kitchen based on either donation or volunteer to service.

4.6 Currency of Money

Assuming that the money could be raised for the repurposing of Barth House, additional costs would be the staff person who would develop and run the ministry, and a program budget to cover the costs of the day to day operations. In 2015, the Diocese of West Tennessee budgeted $20,000 for the upkeep of the Barth House and campus ministry. In 2016, the budget was split to differentiate between the Barth House and campus ministry. $10,500 was budgeted for maintenance to the Barth House physical plant and $12,000 for college ministries.

The ministry proposition, however, would not assume an entirely charity model. Events, classes, and a membership to the kitchen would all work on a GraceEconomics system which would allow all to contribute in a way which honored their ability to participate in a just economy. For those who wanted to use the kitchen, volunteer hours would offset the costs of cleaning and maintenance and day to day operations.

The long-term sustainability would be contingent upon developing relationships through public concerts and artist space. As art shows and concerts grew, the Barth House would begin functioning as many other nonprofits by developing a donor database through the events that will engage the outside community and would then seek donations through the larger community. This model would engage a much larger network than the Episcopal Church.

5. Architectural Program

5.1 Overview

The Architectural Program is best thought of as a statement of the problem to be solved during the design phase of the project. The following space requirements are intended as a guide to be used for architectural design during Phase II of the project.

5.1.1 Entrances

The existing east entrance faces Patterson St. and the main campus and should be preserved and enhanced to make it more welcoming. (Fig. 1) It is recommended that the entrance vestibule be renovated to include seating for guests and a place to store coats.

Figure 1: East entrance

The existing west entrance (Fig. 2) is conveniently located to the parking lot for visitors arriving from off-campus and should be retained. New lighting and a handicapped ramp should be considered to make the entrance more welcoming, and relocation of the existing exterior mechanical equipment to a more remote location should be investigated.

Figure 2: West entrance and parking lot

5.1.2 Great Hall.

It is recommended that the existing Great Hall (Fig. 3) be repurposed as a generous space to accommodate a variety of large group activities including communal meals, concerts, meetings, celebratory gatherings, movies, lectures, worship, art displays, etc.

The existing fixed pews should be removed and replaced with stackable moveable chairs for lectures and concerts, and with long tables for “family style” dining, so as to encourage conversation and a sense of community. Consideration should be given to demolition of some or all of the raised chancel area to provide greater flexibility and access for the physically challenged.

Acoustical modifications should be investigated to provide an environment appropriate for concerts, as well as good speech intelligibility. This may require modification of the existing finishes and provision of a sound-reinforcement system. Replacement of existing uninsulated door and window glazing should be considered for control of outside noise, and attenuation of noise generated by the existing HVAC system should be investigated. It is recommended that an acoustical consultant be included as a member of the design team.

(The existing Great Hall consists of 1176 sf, with seating for approximately 80 persons in pews. With moveable chairs for lectures, concerts, etc., guidelines suggest 20-22 sf/ person, or approximately 60 persons. Allow 15 sf/ person for meetings with a large conference table; 12 sf/ person for dining; and 4-6 sf/ person for crowded stand-up gatherings, such as a reception.)

Figure 3: Great Hall

5.1.3 Communal Kitchen

Design of a new commercial-type kitchen is recommended for the preparation of healthy meals to be served to groups gathered in the Great Hall, as well as by students and others for the preparation of individual meals. It could also include space for cooking classes.

The new kitchen should be adjacent to the Great Hall to facilitate food service, with an area of approximately 500 sf. (The existing 210 sf residential-type kitchen is inadequate for this purpose.) The design of the new kitchen might include visibility and transparency to the adjacent street, so as to help generate interest in a food-centered ministry.

Equipment requirements will be determined by the types of food served, and it is recommended that a commercial kitchen consultant be included as a member of the design team. (A preliminary budget of $80- $100,000 has been suggested for new kitchen equipment, not including the exhaust equipment.) A service entrance with vehicular access should be located adjacent to the kitchen for deliveries, and a dumpster, screened from public view, should be included.

5.1.4 Commons

It is recommended that the existing 500 sf Commons (Fig. 4) be renovated to serve as a place for study, reading, conversation, small meetings, and board and card games. It should include comfortable seating, a small coffee bar, bookcases, and perhaps a lending library.

Figure 4: Commons

5.1.5 Existing Kitchen

The existing 210 sf residential-type kitchen is inadequate for the increased level of food service anticipated, and consideration should be given to repurposing this space for new uses.

5.1.6 Offices

Three private offices of approximately 150- 250 sf each are recommended. (Compare to the two existing offices of 176 sf each, and the 110 sf sacristy.) To accommodate one person each, offices would provide work space for a facility manager, as well as office space for potential university partnerships and the possibility of generating some income.

5.1.7 Accommodations for the Physically Challenged

Ramp access is presently provided at the main east entry, but not at the entrance to the Great Hall or the west entrance. The raised Chancel floor in the Great Hall is not handicapped accessible and may need to be modified by demolition or by the provision of an appropriate ramp. The two existing restrooms should be renovated and may require enlargement to comply with ADA standards. Plumbing fixture counts should be checked for compliance with current building code requirements, and fixtures should be upgraded to comply with ADA and environmental standards.

5.1.8 Mechanical equipment room

The size and location of the existing mechanical equipment room should be investigated with the advice of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering consultants.

5.1.9 Storage

New storage for chairs and tables will be required near the Great Hall, if possible. Requirements for additional general storage should also be investigated.

5.1.10 Parking

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John Burruss
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