Lake Edge Lutheran Church
Madison, Wisconsin, USA

The Lake Edge Lutheran Church congregation has experienced changes like many churches - shifting demographics as members age and new families grow, and an evolving mission and nature of community involvement. Along with these changes came the realization that the layout and spaces of their building as originally designed no longer served them as well as it once had.

Our work with an active and committed building committee began with months of listening sessions with the many church groups - the administration, altar guild, extensive music program, adult and youth education, and so on - even the Quilters (who sew all year long in order to make gifts of hundreds of items to those in need). We heard many variations on the observation of how the current building layout was hampering congregation members. From these sessions we created a comprehensive picture of space needs.

Above: Exterior stone was carefully removed, cleaned and reused. The new roof shingles are 100% recycled EcoShakes.

One pressing need that emerged was for adequate fellowship area closely adjacent to the worship room. The existing space to meet and keep in touch was far too cramped and resulted in many leaving church quickly to avoid the crush. The available basement space was windowless and inconveniently accessible and therefore too-little used.

To turn this situation around meant relocating the pastors’ offices and administration to a new addition. This in turn also provided the extra lower-level space for an adult learning center and, for the first time in the congregations’s history, a good, dedicated music practice space. Many other improvements, small and large, resulted in a complex remodeling that touched nearly every space of the facility.

Left: Original first floor plan
Below: New first floor plan by Design Coalition.

Left: Original basement plan
Below: New basement plan by Design Coalition.


Above: View of new entry from exterior.


The congregation of Lake Edge Lutheran Church has a growing sense of it’s role in the stewardship of the Earth’s resources, and it is important that the building project reflect this commitment. Design Coalition secured a grant from Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program to evaluate potential strategies to improve the facility’s energy performance.

Some of the things that make this a healthier and more energy conserving building are:

Replacement of the heating and air conditioning equipment (complete with energy-recovery ventilator and high performance boilers) while retaining most of the ductwork.
Low-toxin paints, adhesives, and cabinets throughout.
Lots of natural daylighting, and attractive new energy-efficient artificial lighting.
Recycled and reused materials.

The church also worked with Kevin Little of Informing Ecological Design to install a user-friendly energy-use monitoring system called a SenseDat meter.

For more information about Informing Ecological Design and SenseDat visit their websites: and

Left: A skylit “centerpiece” element helps connect the new Fellowship space with the Narthex. It incorporates carved wooden panels, the original doors now replaced by a new energy-efficient glass entry.

Above: View of new entry from interior.


Below: Renderings created to communicate the new design and help with fundraising.