The Dwelling is about 5,800 sq. ft.
Over 1.5 miles of internet, speaker and video cable combined
Over 90 industrial hanging and track lights
5 Video Displays
16 A-5 Series Speakers
4 Internet Workstations
2 Presidential Series Billiard Tables
Over 3,300 sq. ft. of carpet was used on the walls, stage and built-in seating
—There are times when a room or a home needs a fresh look, or an extreme makeover. The same goes for facilities at our Catholic Churches—sometimes the look needs to be freshened up.
That’s exactly what has happened to the newly-named Dwelling, the youth and young adult facility in the basement of St. Thomas the Apostle Church. The new facility was reopened Feb. 2 when Bishop Patrick J. Zurek blessed the newly renovated facility.
Bryan P. Webb is starting his second year as youth director at St. Thomas this month and said the makeover’s origins began in May 2010.
“I wanted to renovate our basement area,” he said, “but it was Joe Garcia (a parishioner and diocesan webmaster) who truly fanned the flames behind getting this project going from my vision to his computer animated view of the project. It was this computer generated design which sold the idea to Monsignor (Joseph) Tash and the Pastoral and Financial Committees.”
Webb said the project from inception to completion took nine months, “ironically about the same time to birth a new child!” Webb said. “Sometimes, just as painful, for sure.”
What was the vision that Webb had for the basement area?
“Attitude,” he said. “We basically wanted to give The Dwelling a personality and a character to which young people could relate to and call their own. Thirteen years in youth ministry gave life to the ideas seen in this space. “
Webb said the newly-renovated Dwelling contains two areas.
“The desire for the area was to have some defined spaces dedicated for certain activities and experiences,” he said. “This inspiring idea and the name of our new space, The Dwelling, comes from the Old Testament wherein it describes the tent used by the Israelites to house the Ark of the Covenant while they wandered in the desert.
“This tent was divided into two main areas with the second, deeper area being the ‘Holy of Holies’ which housed the Ark itself. So, first, we defined an area where young people could gather as the ‘Body of Christ’ and celebrate through food, fellowship and fun; this represents the first part of the tent where people entered in and prepared to go deeper. Secondly, we created another area where young people could encounter the ‘Body of Christ’ through prayer and worship; this represents the inner, second part of the tent where the presence of God dwelt… A place to come face to face with your God.”
When walking through The Dwelling, one cannot begin to describe its features.
“The room has some quite awesome features,” said Webb. “First, the whole room features what we are calling a Modern-Contemporary Industrial look. It has an Internet Café, Gaming Area, Kitchen and Game Table Area, which has Pool Tables, Air Hockey and Foos Ball! The space will be both durable and technologically cutting edge. But, my favorite area is the prayer and worship space, our ‘Holy of Holies’ if you will. Simplicity.”
Another of the features of The Dwelling is the technology, all controlled manually or by an either an iPhone or iPad, according to Garcia.
“It features two wide screen hi-definition projectors with accompanying 110-inch diagonal screens,” he said. “The image from the projectors is over four times bigger than an average television. In addition to the projection screens, a 55-inch plasma TV and two 32-in LCD TV’s provide a viewable area from anywhere in the room.
“The youth can enjoy any display with their choice of a Blu-ray Movie, Cable Television, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, or Xbox 360. Some can watch a movie on a projector, others can play a game on the Plasma TV, others can watch cable on the two LCDs. A complete surround sound experience is fueled by 16 A-5 Series speakers mounted and discreetly hidden in the ceiling.
“The coffee bar area features four Internet workstations for word processing and browsing the Internet. There is also high-speed wireless Internet for anyone interested in bringing his or her own laptop. Again, all of the video screens, speakers and lights can be controlled manually, or with and Apple iPad or iPhone!”
How did the youth and adult communities react to the newly renovated Dwelling?
“Our youth and adult communities are celebrating and embracing the new space,” said Webb. “It has something for everybody, even though it was designed for mainly young people to use. It also has an older, mature sophistication it to as well.”
What was Webb’s favorite part of the project?
“That’s easy,” he said. “The creation. It was totally awesome to watch this area be emptied and then take on a new life, to watch nothing becoming something. It was incredible.”
But a project like this takes more than just a computer generated design and vision—it takes a lot of support.
“There is no way I could’ve done this by myself,” said Webb. “I am very grateful to the Men’s Club here at St. Thomas, the STAY Young Adults, Plains Builders and Joe Garcia. I am eternally grateful to Monsignor Tash and his belief in his new Youth Director of less than four months in beginning this project.”