First Baptist Dallas, led by Dr. Robert Jeffress, recently opened their $130 million dollar sanctuary, marking the beginning of a new era, and the end of one of the largest church construction projects in history. This space became the new home for their traditional First Baptist Dallas services. The historic sanctuary built in 1890 then became available for the expanding Day One Contemporary Services led by Nicholas Costello.
Paragon 360™ was hired in 2012 to renovate the historic space making it a more suitable environment for contemporary services. The challenge was to update & modernize the room while maintaining the historic nature and craftsmanship of the space itself. The stage & set design had to be trendy in look and feel, versatile and practical in use while retaining the essence of the architecture. The idea was to create an environment that offered many of the contemporary lighting changes and service elements of today’s contemporary services but did not seem out of place in the 124-year-old space.
The room would see a big transition in their programming as they were moving from a 200 person choir and 50 piece orchestra to a 6 piece band and small praise team with the message brought in by video from the main sanctuary space. Paragon 360™ created some set elements to mask the empty choir loft areas and push the attention forward and downstage surrounding the band and praise team members. “We had to make the stage space seem smaller so that the presentation, while smaller, seemed much larger and filled the space” says Donnie Brawner, CEO of Paragon 360™. The stage set includes many of the custom features seen in the historic architecture of the space. The video ready set which features flexible, change-able, illuminated backgrounds were designed to be moved, relocated or taken out completely at any time. The old sanctuary space will still exists when the modular set elements are removed.
An illuminated center stage wall unit houses a motorized 6’ X 9’ Da-Lite ascending video screen. The screen serves as a backdrop to the music led service and becomes the center piece of the message itself as services from the main sanctuary are brought in. The live lighting elements around the screen aide in creating a more dimensional, emotional and live presentation of the message.
Other parts of the project included the removal of carpet on the stage and much of the sanctuary floor. The carpet was replaced with a wood laminate flooring. Pews were re-spaced allowing for more comfortable seating. One of Paragon’s custom DE-360 Drum Enclosures was included on the project for better control of the stage audio mix.
AVL systems were upgraded and augmented as part of this renovation. Audio systems were completely renovated with the addition of an EVA Series Line Array System by EV. Video systems were upgraded to include the new center stage projection and a center screen over the stage for graphics presentation. Lighting enhancements included new stage lighting fixtures, LED moving lights for the stage area and new GrandMA lighting control systems.
“Paragon 360 worked within constrained budgets, tight timelines and a multitude of preferences to provide an absolute fantastic result” says Bryan Bailey, Director of Media at First Baptist Dallas. “The end product is a room with smooth sound, flexible lighting, and a great vibe that satisfies everyone from the rockin’ band on Sunday morning to the upscale wedding the night before.”