Healthy DNA for a Building That Grows

Replicating Past Success at New Campus Expansion

Church planting by the establishment of satellite campuses continues to be a growing trend. Another continued trend is the progression of community development west of Houston. Accordingly, St. Peter’s United Methodist Church elected to establish a satellite campus in the city of Fulshear, 20 minutes southwest of its Katy location, in a rapidly developing neighborhood.

At St. Peter’s UMC Kingsland, the church has experienced successful growth while serving their community in Katy for over 30 years. For the Fulshear campus, the senior pastor, Pat Sparks, made a request of ZCA to replicate, but update, the “Healthy DNA” of the St. Peter’s Kingsland campus. Building on the success of their ministries and programs, the church wanted to replicate what has worked, such as facility character and program sizes. At the same time, the church wanted to place the focus on organization and design, in order to serve a contemporary worship program with young families in mind.


With the site selected and a predetermined intersection entrance to respect, the team was determined to create an environment that would easily orient visitors to a welcoming campus. The original model of St Peter’s in Katy is a sprawling campus with individual buildings connected by covered walks and courtyards, which creates an issue for wayfinding. The new campus is a departure from that. ZCA divided the site between parking and a well-organized collection of program areas all under one roof, sequencing through the master plan the order in which the campus would adapt and fully expand to capacity. St. Peter’s master planning committee quickly adopted the theme “a building that grows.”

St. Peter UMC Existing Campus Plan

Questions to Consider

Designing a building that will have multiple planned future additions requires a significant amount of sensitivity and forethought. Critical systems such as structure, fire protection, interior and exterior materials, and utilities are to be anticipated and coordinated. In the process, the design team must pose and answer questions, such as:


  • Which walls need to be considered permanent, semi-permanent, or temporary?
  • How do we minimize disruptions to operations while the next phase is under construction?
  • How do we bring natural light into central spaces?
  • How do we secure parts of the facility, such as the school, from other areas that will be open to the public?

Each of these questions must be reviewed and answered for each new phase as it is added.

St. Peter’s UMC Master Planning Goals

  • “A Building that Grows”
  • Campus-feel with enclosed connections
  • Clear wayfinding
  • Universal accessibility
  • Ability to secure the campus and allow limited access as needed
  • Visible administration area near the main entrance
  • Vehicular access around the perimeter and multiple covered drops and parking areas
  • All children’s programming spaces on 1st Floor
  • Nursery and adult education near each other
  • Fellowship hall and sanctuary near each other
  • Small traditional chapel
  • Abundance of natural light throughout
  • Contemporize “Healthy DNA” of St. Peter’s Kingsland Campus

Phase 1

St. Peter’s Fulshear campus is currently in construction and will feature a multi-purpose worship space for 488 people and nine classrooms. The structure is designed to expand its worship capacity as the church family grows. When the final church sanctuary is built to serve 1,500 people, the Phase 1 building will be converted to a full Fellowship Hall for 900, complete with stage, operable partitions, and a commercial kitchen. The building’s eventual proximity to the sanctuary and its open walls to the “Main Street” (the campus’ 40-foot-wide central organizing corridor) will make it the center of activity for all ministries. The church plans to start worshiping at their new Fulshear campus in early 2021.

St. Peter UMC Fulshear Campus Master Plan

About the Author

Stephen Lucchesi, AIA

A graduate of Texas A&M University, Steve has more than 31 years of experience in architectural design and management. His work has received several awards and has been internationally published. He is a member of the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Buildings Committee at the Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park.

As Education, Worship and Community Senior Practice Area Leader, Steve is responsible for the general administration and review of projects. His clientele includes religious institutions, municipalities and civic organizations, and educational establishments.

Stephen Lucchesi, AIA

Senior Principal

Senior Principal

Stephen Lucchesi