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AWCI’s 2009 Excellence in Construction Quality Award Winner

AWCI’s Excellence in Construction Quality Award honors the AWCI member contractor(s), manufacturers and suppliers who participate in a quality construction project.

Christ Church United Methodist, New Sanctuary, Phase 2

Louisville, Kentucky

Christ Church United Methodist’s new sanctuary is one of beauty and function suited for the 21st century, and Grayhawk, LLC of Louisville, Ky., is the AWCI member contractor who worked on this award-winning project.

This sanctuary has all facets of a traditional church but also incorporates the technology for today’s changing congregations. The technological upgrades are built-in track lighting in the walls and ceilings, and built-in speakers in the columns, as well as a state-of-the-art pipe organ. The beauty is the barreled ceilings that line each side of the sanctuary and guide the eye to the angled ceiling in the center of the sanctuary ceiling.

There are also red iron arches that mimic the barrel sides in the center of the ceiling. Each arch is covered in mahogany. All heating and air components, as well as all corners and faces of the balconies, are also faced with mahogany. When using a wood veneer it is imperative that the framing underneath is straight and true. Grayhawk accomplished this by using steel framing materials and quality workmanship.

The first challenge Grayhawk had to overcome was materials and storage. Since this was an addition to an existing church, the room for storing materials on the job was non-existent; therefore, all materials needed to be delivered at the time they were to be installed. When working like this, the communication between contractor and supplier is of the utmost importance, and that communication is what allowed Grayhawk to overcome this hurdle.

Drywall delivery posed another set of challenges. Since Grayhawk teams were working so high up off the floor, the drywall had to be delivered onto their scaffolding. This was tricky because they had to watch the weight of where the board was sitting and the weight of the men working in those areas. This was also a challenge for the drywall supplier because they had to stock the board over the scaffolding railing and walk it 150 feet to the other end of the scaffolding—you could only stock from one end of the scaffolding.

When it came time to stock board for the angled center ceiling, again it was onto the scaffold, this time 50 feet in the air. The only way to get board to this point was through the large round window on the west side of the church, again having to walk 150 feet to the far end to stock board. When stocking on scaffolding, it is quite precarious.

The barreled and angled ceilings were also unique on this project. The barreled ceilings required traditional framing to drop from the roof deck, and then the use of drywall grid bent to the proper radius and suspended, then screwed to each side of the ceiling framing. For the task of obtaining and maintaining the radius required for the barreled ceilings, Grayhawk formed a jig. Even though Grayhawk had a jig, each of the 80+ pieces had to be painstakingly cut, then bent, and then screwed back together with plates in order to make the piece usable. The angled ceiling in the center also required the use of suspended drywall grid as well as traditional framing.

The other challenge with these ceilings was the fact that Grayhawk workers were building them 35 and 50 feet in the air. Not only were they working high in the air, but all these ceilings also required two layers of 5/8” fire code “X” drywall per the design. When installing the drywall, each iron arch had to be cut around and have trim installed around it. On the barrel ceilings, since 5/8” board does not bend well, Grayhawk used two layers of 1/2” fire code “C” to make the bend and achieve the required rating.

Another design aspect was the building of risers for the balcony section of the sanctuary. The risers had to be built to withstand 2 inches of concrete and a seating area on top of them.

Another framing challenge was the arched windows surrounding the sanctuary. Each window was framed with an arch that had to be hand-cut and formed due to their size. Grayhawk’s framing work also consisted of numerous skylights and aesthetic arches in the hallway connecting the old church to the new sanctuary.

The finishing of the ceilings was also challenging. The ceilings have a smooth finish that required patience and skill to make sure no joints, shadowing or ridging was visible. Grayhawk had to achieve this with only a Level 4 finish because the owner did not want to go to the expense of the Level 5. Overcoming this required the use of quality technicians and the utmost attention to detail.

Along with these challenges was the main challenge of an ever-changing schedule. Throughout this job the schedule was revised numerous times, each time compressing Grayhawk’s time frame while leaving the completion date unchanged. Grayhawk managed this challenge with the help of their extremely skilled job foreman, Paul Tomes, who maintained the flow of the job and kept Grayhawk’s manpower on track to accomplish each stage in the allotted time. Tomes worked very closely with the general contractor, Sullivan & Cozart, to know their next step in order to plan his. It was through their foreman’s knowledge and dedication that this job was performed to the level of quality and craftsmanship for which Grayhawk is known.

Through a great field and support staff, Grayhawk was able to create an amazing work of art of the utmost quality and on schedule, despite all obstacles, that generations to come will be able to worship in and enjoy.

Participating AWCI Member Manufacturers & Suppliers

Armstrong Ceiling Systems

ClarkWestern Building Systems

Dryvit Systems, Inc.


Grabber Ohio

Johns Manville, Insulation Systems

NexGen Building Supply


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