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Mythbusting: But I thought Visioneering was just a design firm

September 30, 2013

Myth Busted

You probably think you know who Visioneering Studios is. You’ve heard of them from other churches who have used them over the last decade, you’ve listened to them speak at church conferences, you’ve seen pictures and blog posts on social media, and you’ve read articles in publications. But chances are if you haven’t talked to anyone at Visioneering lately you don’t know who they are today, or who they are becoming tomorrow. You don’t know how Visioneering has grown and changed over the last decade. So in the interest of getting the word out I’m going to do a little mythbusting.

Myth: Visioneering only works with big megachurches.

Fact: Visioneering has worked, and continues to work daily, with churches of all sizes from 150 people to 20,000+. In fact we work with many church plants to help them get in their first building or onto their first site. We also work with many churches wanting to launch multi-sites, often in smaller venues.

Myth: Visioneering just comes up with master plans and pretty pictures.

Fact: Visioneering started with one employee and a couple of contracted consultants who primarily provided master plans initially. So technically, this used to be true, and is still partially true…Visioneering still starts most of their engagements with amazing master plans and pretty pictures, but Visioneering takes it so much deeper now. In fact Visioneering’s name is a mashup for “engineering God-inspired Visions” with the churches we work with, and that is still what we are doing today…just on a whole other level.

Myth: Visioneering’s design fees are expensive and so are their buildings.

Fact: Visioneering’s design fees are competitive with the national market and when you compare apples-to-apples on scopes of services, disciplines included, and the creativity of the designs, it is easy to see the differences. It’s the same with our buildings. We’re not trying to be the Wal-Mart of the design and construction world, but we realize that each church is called to be good stewards of what they have been entrusted with. We believe that includes being good stewards of the outcome, not just what is initially the cheapest. Can you design or build a cheaper building? Yep, but will it achieve your church’s goals in your community? Cheapest doesn’t equal best stewardship (see this post on Architectural Evangelism). Good designers can create a smaller building by being more efficient with the space layout (and the quickest and best way to save money on any project is to build a smaller building). Intentional designers can provide the most bang for the buck by limiting the “wow” design elements to areas that have the most impact, while using simpler products and design elements in other less critical areas of the building or site. Strategic designers can create outdoor rooms that are usable and attractive for many parts of the year as expanded lobby and amenity areas at costs exponentially lower than enclosing those spaces in steel and concrete and having to heat and air condition them.

Myth: Visioneering only designs new buildings on undeveloped sites.

Fact: The large majority of Visioneering’s projects are on sites that have already been partially or fully developed. In addition to “green field” sites, Visioneering has extensive experience with projects involving expansions, renovations, and interior upfits for churches of all sizes across the country. In fact, as the paradigm of church facility development shifts toward smaller venues and multi-sites Visioneering is increasingly working on Tenant Improvement projects within shopping centers and warehouses where the site is developed and the exterior shell buildings are complete and largely un-modifiable (see pictures of our project for Elevation Church in a former K-mart and furniture warehouse space).

Myth: Visioneering is a southern California architectural firm, not a national facilities solution provider.

Fact: Visioneering started in Irvine, California as a design firm and still has an office there, but over the years Visioneering has grown from one employee in Southern California to a national company with over 40 employees with offices and personnel in: 1) Irvine, California; 2) Denver, Colorado; 3) Austin, Texas; 4) Nashville, Tennessee; and 5) Charlotte, North Carolina. Visioneering has won national awards as both an architect and a builder. Currently we have architectural licenses in about 40 states, and can provide construction services in about 27 states, but we’re not done yet. We’re still growing to meet the needs of new clients across the country as their facilities solution provider, in whatever form that may require. Beyond just architectural designs or construction management services, Visioneering offers turnkey services to help churches manage projects from dream to dedication day…and beyond. In addition to world-class designers and construction managers Visioneering has staff that provide Strategic Feasibility Planning services to help churches determine what spaces they need, when they will need them, and how to phase expansion so that it is financially feasible without robbing funds from ministry programs.

Myth: Visioneering only works with churches.

Fact: While it is true that a large portion of Visioneering’s past and current workload is with churches, Visioneering does serve other clients in other market sectors. Visioneering’s official vision statement shows this clearly: “We exist to design and develop live/worship/play destinations that lift the spirit…now and forever.” Obviously the “Worship” sector includes churches, but Visioneering also works with schools, colleges, non-profits, and other para-church ministries. In the “Live” sector Visioneering provides services for New Urbanist mixed-use developments that are pedestrian friendly with residential components that may include various types of housing models. This market sector also includes student housing projects for colleges and univesities. The “Play” sector goes back to the roots of some of Visioneering’s founders who had extensive worldwide experience designing destination resorts and theme parks, working for groups like Disney Imagineering and Universal Creative among others. These experiences creating environments that people desire to visit helps keep our designs sharp and on the leading edge of industry trends. These design trends often translate seamlessly to our church projects, which are themselves geared toward creating destinations that people want to visit because they are culturally relevant and designed to respond to the greater context of their community.

So, if you worked with Visioneering in the past or had someone tell you who Visioneering is, then chances are you only know who Visioneering used to be. It’s time to find out for yourself who Visioneering is now, and who we are becoming. Visioneering started with a goal to “become who we are becoming” and we’ve steadily moved forward with that vision over the last decade. Like any healthy, growing entity Visioneering has evolved over the years: master planner…design architect…architect-of-record…builder…integrated project developer…total facilities solution provider. Just keep your eyes open though, because what we are today may not be all that we are tomorrow. If you have any other questions about whether Visioneering’s capabilities as a facilities solution provider are a good fit for your project, give us a call or leave a comment below.

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