Original Questionnaire

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James Bradberry + Architects | Andropogon Associates | James Turrell    June 16, 2006

This questionnaire is part of the process of gathering information for the planning of the meetinghouse project. It is being sent to all members and attenders of the Chestnut Hill Meeting.

Please complete and return this questionnaire to James Bradberry+Architects by July 3, 2006. Respond to James Bradberry, c/o James Bradberry Architects, 843 West Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010, or by e-mail to[email protected]. If you print this questionnaire and respond by mail, please write your answers in the space provided or on the opposite side of the paper, simply listing question Al, A2, A3, etc.

Do not feel obligated to answer all of the questions -- they are meant solely to stimulate thinking.

Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

Name (Optional):

A. General Questions

  1. What qualities do you feel make a space inspirational and spiritual?
  2. Are there other Meetinghouses (either in the Delaware Valley or elsewhere) that particularly appeal to you? If so, why?
  3. Are there other Meetinghouses that do not appeal to you and if so, why?
  4. Are there other religious/spiritual buildings/ sites that particularly appeal to you? Which ones, and why?
  5. If you could use three adjectives (or short phrases) to describe Chestnut Hill Meeting, what would they be?
  6. What problems can you identify with the current Meetinghouse in terms of adequacy of space, functional relationships of spaces to one another, or other issues that me be addressed in a new building? E.g., size of kitchen, amount of storage, number of bathrooms, etc.
  7. Are there any activities that should have space in a new Meetinghouse that are not currently included in the existing one or that need larger or a different type of space.

B. Meeting Room

  1. If you could use three adjectives (or short phrases) to describe the existing Meeting Room, what would they be?
  2. In your opinion, what qualities or functional aspects of the existing Meeting Room should be considered for the new Meeting Room? What qualities or functional aspects are inadequate and should be improved upon? (Comment on such issues as number and location of entrances, acoustics, light and view, etc.)
  3. Do you have an opinion on whether it is important to keep the existing Meeting Room benches?
  4. Do you have an opinion on seating arrangements for the new Meeting Room? Some traditional Meetinghouse arrangements:
    • rows of benches all facing a common direction
    • half of benches facing the other half
    • tiered benches/seating (i.e., on risers)
    • inwardly focused 3-sided
    • inwardly focused 4-sided
    • all of the above with perimeter benches
  5. Do you feel that it is important to design the Meeting Room to “fit” a particular seating arrangement, or should the proportions of the room be able to accommodate numerous arrangements? E.g., most churches are designed to a particular arrangement.
  6. Is it important to have a fireplace in the new Meeting Room? If no, would your opinion be altered if an environmentally friendly fireplace/stove was provided (e.g., with “pollutant scrubbers” and/or one that provides heat as well as flame)?
  7. Do you envision the membership of the Meeting growing in the future? If so, what would seem to be an appropriate size adult membership?
  8. Various sizes of Meeting Rooms have been discussed. The existing Meeting Room is approximately 770 square feet and can reasonably fit 100 people. How many people should the Meeting Room be able to accommodate? Do you have an opinion on the potential loss of intimacy if the Meeting Room size increases? Do you have an opinion on an “expandable” Meeting Room (not unlike what you have now with the folding doors that open onto the Gather Room)?
  9. At Meeting for Worship, one enters into the realm of silence. How important is it for you that there be literal silence and total lack of distraction? (E.g., at a recent Meeting for Worship we picked up on three comments related to this. One person said that she loved having the windows open and hearing the sounds of birds and of children playing in the yard. And yet if a fire truck came down Germantown Avenue, one might feel differently about the audible connection to the outer world. Another person said that one of the children came to the Meeting Room window and was about to throw a paper airplane into the Meeting Room, i.e., are ground level windows distracting? Another person said that she wished the doors to the Gather Room could be kept open. Any comments?
  10. The current meeting room gets good light through modestly sized windows. How would you feel about very large windows or glass doors that open up the meeting room more substantially to views of the landscape and outdoors?

C. James Turrell Participation

  1. The Meeting will be entering into an agreement with James Turrell for the design of an installation using light to be part of the project. Do you have an opinion on where in the new Meetinghouse this installation should be located? (Please indicate if you are not familiar with Mr. Turrell’s work.)
  2. How would you feel if James Turrell’s light installation extended outdoors into the site and landscape?
  3. Contributions from outside the meeting to support James Turrell’s participation may require that the meetinghouse be open to the public at certain times unrelated to our own activities. How would you feel about that?

D. Site

  1. If you could use three adjectives (or short phrases) to describe your vision of the landscape of the future Meetinghouse site, what would they be?
  2. Do you want outdoor spaces for weddings or other events? Should there be a place to put a tent? What other functional uses should be accommodated? E.g., outdoor classrooms, play areas?
  3. There are also symbolic uses of the landscape: a setting for the building, a sense of arrival and entrance, and for the Friends, there is perhaps a sense of penetrating “layers of silence” having the landscape make a transition from the busy world of the street to the sanctuary of the meeting room itself. Should there be a quiet area on the site for meditation or for transition from the “world” to the Meetinghouse?
  4. What other uses would you like to see on the site itself (outside of the building) or as an adjunct to the purposes of the building? For example: certain “green” strategies come with aesthetic and spatial implications. E.g., a green roof or an on-site “biology pond” or water recycling pools.
  5. Do you have an opinion about where on the site the new Meetinghouse should be located — close to the hillside at the rear of the site, close to Mermaid Lane, in the center of the property, toward the old Meetinghouse building. This is a question about connections. What connection is most important for the new Meetinghouse?
  6. The Friends have a tradition of stewardship of the natural landscape and have created many of the arboretums and botanical gardens in the Philadelphia region. Would you consider extensions of the valley natural landscape (forest) into the Meeting landscape to create “forest gardens” in the Chestnut Hill tradition or a strong emphasis on the use of plant materials native to Chestnut Hill?

E. Environmental Issues

  1. A good deal of discussion has centered on the desire to build a building and fit out the site in an environmentally sensitive manner. Without getting into specifics, how might you categorize your own opinion along the spectrum of environmental standards indicated below?
  • The new building should be designed to current building and energy codes.
  • The building should incorporate special energy saving and environmental solutions the cost of which could be recovered in a reasonable period of time.
  • As a witness to our testimony regarding the environment, the building design should strive for a high level of energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, while still being fiscally responsible.

F. General Character and Miscellaneous

  1. Are there particular building materials that you feel are important to consider for the new Meetinghouse? Why?
  2. What type of visual impact do you think a new meetinghouse should present to passers-by? E.g. open, discrete, inviting, imposing, etc.
  3. There has been discussion about potentially phasing the project or separating the program space between the existing building and a new building. If the project were phased, what activities and spaces should be in the first phase of new construction and which ones left in the existing meetinghouse? If the project were phased, do you foresee difficulties in operating programs on two sites (e.g., a new meeting room on the new site with First Day School remaining in the existing building)?
  4. Should the aesthetic character of the building be similar to the present Meetinghouse built in the 1920s as a copy of the 18th century houses? How would you feel about a more modern architectural character or a building that reached out into the site and created garden spaces? Are there other possibilities that would be appropriate for your meeting?
  5. To what extent should the plan and organization of the meetinghouse or a combination of new building and existing, be designed to accommodate potential uses by other organizations that have special needs? E.g., the capacity to host homeless families or other uses with special functional needs.

G. Other comments

Please include here any other comments or suggestions not covered by the preceding questions.

Thank You!

Please mail by 7/3/06 to James Bradberry, c/o James Bradberry Architects, 843 West LancasterAvenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010.