Building Envelope

What Happens Here

  • A building’s “envelope,” or exterior skin, includes the roof, walls and windows, and is its interface with its surroundings and climate.
  • The appearance and size of neighboring buildings may influence the design of the building envelope.
  • Building orientation may determine the design of the building envelope.

What to Look For

  • What does the appearance of the building suggest about the church’s history and priorities?
  • Independent of signage, how well does the building communicate the church’s culture?
  • What are the exterior materials?
  • Are exterior materials durable and low maintenance?
  • Which side of the building receives the most sunlight?  Which offers the best views?  Which might be exposed to harsh light or wind?  Which side offers the best opportunity for natural lighting?  Do the faces of the building reflect their unique orientation in the landscape?
  • Are windows individual (“punched”)  or “continuous”? Is the glass clear, tinted or reflective?  Does the building rely on shading devices to protect the openings?  How effective are they?

Why It Matters

A building that is properly oriented on its site, so that it takes advantage of daylight and views and avoids noise and heat, requires much less energy and money to operate.


A church can choose to blend in with or contrast with its surroundings; legitimate arguments can be made for each.

Room x Room posts are brief examinations of the nature, purpose and potential of typical spaces used in ministry. The intent is to help users see and consider how each component contributes to (or hinders) the ministry it serves.