Manhattan Construction – First Baptist Dallas

The First Baptist Church has been a landmark in downtown Dallas since its inception in 1868. As the population of Dallas swelled throughout the years, the modest church on Akard Street has been transformed into a stately religious institution with a sprawling campus that is now badly in need of an upgrade.

Although First Baptist is one of the largest property owners in downtown Dallas, its campus was a hodgepodge of inaccessible facilities that were well past their building lifecycles, according to the church. In January 2008, shortly after becoming pastor of First Baptist, Dr. Robert Jeffress proposed a new worship center and facility for children and student ministries, as well as general campus improvements. The congregation unanimously agreed.

In November 2009, First Baptist Church’s planning and development committee moved forward with the largest funding campaign ever undertaken by a church. The proposed $123 million campus will combine state-of-the-art, revitalized facilities with the church’s historic past to create a spiritual oasis suitable for the 21st century. Incorporating the latest in green technologies and sustainable processes, the project intends to seek LEED Silver certification upon its completion.

New Dallas Landmark

The 1.5-million-square-foot First Baptist Dallas campus began construction in March 2011 and will hold its first service during the Easter holiday of 2013. Designed by Dallas-based architecture firm The Beck Group, it will feature a three-story, 3,100-seat worship center able to hold twice as many people as its present sanctuary, built in 1891. This facility also will house a senior adult education center.

A five-story, 100,000-square-foot youth education center will feature a gymnasium, junior high and high school theaters, and an indoor playground. A seven-story, 220,000-square-foot, above-grade parking garage will provide convenient parking. An extensive glass sky bridge will connect all of the structures together. The heart of the campus will be an open plaza with a large water fountain topped with a 70-foot luminescent cross on a pedestal.

Experienced Contractor

A project of this caliber and complexity being built in the confined spaces of downtown Dallas requires a highly skilled and knowledgeable construction team to execute it properly. That is why First Baptist Dallas selected Manhattan Construction to manage construction.

According to Project Executive Bruce Fields, the company has significant experience building churches in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Its portfolio includes Prestonwood Baptist Church and Fielder Road Baptist Church, the latter of which brought Manhattan and The Beck Group together. The company also is the contractor for the Southwest Baptist Seminary, which is currently under construction in Fort Worth.

“In addition to our church experience, we have a well-rounded list of projects and relevant experience in Dallas,” Fields says. Manhattan built Cowboys Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, and recently completed a 30,000-seat football stadium at the University of North Texas. In addition, it is building a new courthouse for Rockwell County, Texas, and the George Bush Presidential Center at the Southern Methodist University campus.

Teamwork Pays Off

This might be the first time Manhattan has worked with First Baptist Dallas, but it didn’t take long for the two organizations to develop a close relationship, Fields says. “Anytime you work with a new client, you form that bond, that trust and that teamwork, and it didn’t take very long at all to form that relationship with the church,” he notes. “They are really professional, great folks to work with.”

The same can be said of Manhattan’s relationship with The Beck Group, he adds. “It’s been a good relationship and, just like the church, the team has formed a close bond and worked through issues to create win-win solutions,” Fields states. “They’ve been great to work with. When we were hired, the architect was working on the construction documents, so we started pricing the project at the completion of the design documents and the beginning of the construction documents.” 

The construction market conditions were such that Manhattan was able to obtain highly competitive pricing to the benefit of First Baptist Dallas, Fields observes. 

“The amount of work out in the marketplace is down from what it has been in years past, and this budget came along at a good time to receive very competitive pricing from some really qualified subcontractors,” he says. “I’ve been amazed by their progress. From March 7 to Sept. 19, we have poured over 16,000 cubic yards of concrete, fabricated and erected over 800 tons of steel – all in 138 work days.”

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