St. Sarkis Church - insulated tilt-up provides historical accuracy and energy-efficient performance

Photo of St. Sarkis Church

St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church

Charlotte, North Carolina

Total Size
15,000 SF

Leviat Products
Thermomass System NC

Honoring Captain St. Sarkis, one of the most beloved saints among the Armenian nation, St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church was a longtime dream of Charlotte's fast-growing Armenian community.

When planning began for their new church, the St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic congregation decided on a building that would combine old-world aesthetics with cost-effective construction. To help tham meet that challenge, they partnered with architect Glen R. Stephens of SAA Architecture LLC (SAA). With over forty years of experience, SAA has a long history of designing buildings that are functional, striking and innovative.

Because of tight budgets and daily use of the facility, energy-efficiency was crucial to SAA's design. Additionally, the church would be a place of fellowship, introspection and education, so comfort and serenity would be of prime importance. Site-cast tilt-up sandwich panels, insulated with Thermomass insulation products, proved to be the perfect solution for these complex issues.

Perfect Fit

"As we explored the Thermomass products, we soon discovered it was a perfect application. Churches face long periods with limited hours of operation interspersed with sudden periods of high occupancy," says Stephens. "Building codes mandate high quantities of outside air when these spaces are occupied, and high-capacity HVAC systems are costly to operate."

Heating/cooling sequencing needs were met using highly-efficient sandwich walls insulated with Thermomass System NC, virtually eliminating energy transfer through the building envelope, and thereby reducing the amount of HVAC equipment used to maintain a comfortable interior environment.

"Combining CO sensing technology, limited thermal bridging, and the thermal storage performance of the Thermomass system; we are able to design large sanctuary and fellowship spaces that are extraordinarily efficient to heat and cool," says Stephens. "Limiting energy expenses is important and only growing more so as energy costs are rapidly trending upward."

Photo of St. Sarkis Church in Charlotte, North Carolina

Historical Accuracy

With a church history spanning seventeen centuries, the congregation wanted an appropriate look for the new building, but they also had a strict budget to maintain. Actual stone would have doubled the cost of construction, and an EIFS solution would not have provided the desired durability. Fortunately, Thermomass insulated walls can be built with a variety of textures and finishes.

For the exterior, Seretta Construction detailed and colored the wall panels to resemble tuffa, a volcanic stone native to the Caucasus Mountains in Eastern Europe. For the interior, SAA exposed the concrete wall as a finished surface. "Concrete is very durable and can create interesting acoustical conditions for churches looking for slightly reverberant spaces," says Stephens".

In the end, the church's congregation was happy with the project's outcome, and the Leviat team was equally pleased to work with outstanding partners to help this Charlotte community realize their dreams.