Located in the heart of Hamilton’s downtown, the Church of the Ascension provides worship space for a traditional Anglican congregation and houses the operations of a wide range of outreach programs. The mid-19th century complex, consists of three buildings – parish hall, sanctuary and chapel. In order to lower operation costs and increase revenue, the leadership and congregation were determined to move the programs from the parish hall to a renovated sanctuary and chapel. This move in turn has freed the hall for church-involved development which has been advancing through an ongoing, multiple stakeholder, neighbourhood block master-planning process.
The original sanctuary building was erected in 1851. SvN’s scope of work to the heritage structure involved reorganization of the program areas to optimize space within the sanctuary itself, allowing the organization to grow both their ministry and outreach programs.
The renovation process started with a needs assessment that catalogued the full range of uses. These uses included liturgical services, outreach programs, group meetings, concerts and performances, archives, youth programs and weddings. The resulting space program identified how a variety of users and uses could be accommodated after renovation.
Working with a heritage consultant and the City’s heritage planners, SvN developed objectives for the design and construction of the new sanctuary. These included: maintaining the original spirit and function of the space; making small, reversible interventions; and, preserving and protecting heritage features. These objectives are evident in the final design with its modern inserted elements which improve functionality and compliment, but contrast, the original heritage features.
The final design meets the needs of today’s congregation while allowing room for future growth and expansion. An incremental implementation plan enables future phases to proceed as funds become available and as the master plan process gets finalized. In the meantime, the final design of the first phase of renovation work provides space which can be meaningfully used by the congregation along with the east Hamilton community.