Top Architect in Monterey Bay on the Design of Young Nak Presbyterian Church in Marina


Q: How did you became the lead architect on this project with Young Nak Presbyterian Church?

DJE: Young Nak Presbyterian Church was looking to have a new home at the time. Fort Ord had closed down as an army base in Marina, California. When the Army base closed down there were three cities that were vying for the property to develop it. My company was hired by the army and with Fort Ord reuse authority to calculate the best use of all the properties that were there. So we began evaluating existing buildings and advised the authorities on how to proceed with these properties. They wanted to know if they  should destroy and tear them down. Through that,  I became quite an expert on the properties at the Fort Ord base. Young Nak Presbyterian Church wanted to  purchase a building from Fort Ord and then move it to the building site that they purchased in Marina, the heard through the grapevine that I was the guy who could help them do that.
We went through that process to discover if it was even practical to move a building.  Did it make any sense to even purchase a new property? We did financial analysis to see what it would cost to move it in comparison to building a new facility and in their case, it turned out to be very fruitful with the finances to take two buildings. We moved them about a mile from where they were located prior. This project involved a lot of issues but because I was very familiar with these buildings at the Fort Ord location we were able to solve them. A lot of the buildings had asbestos and lead paint and other kinds of things that you have to be very, very careful with. I helped them evaluate and select those buildings and make sure it was worth all the effort, which it was.

You really need to make sure that your dreams can come true and that they’re financially fit, otherwise the dream can quickly turn into a nightmare.

Q: What was the most interesting aspect about that project? 

DJE: The development really worked out perfectly financially for them. They had very little debt. Their property had some crazy things about it for some environmental issues that were part of the property where we couldn’t develop. We had to look at all kinds of issues with the property in Marina, even more than with the buildings, which were plenty.  In the end,  the buildings turned out beautiful. You wouldn’t believe that it was a building that was once an army barrack. We recreated this primary building  space to be something very beautiful fitting for a worship sanctuary. The secondary building for their classrooms and fellowship hall is very basic, but the main sanctuary is just wonderful. It’s a Korean Presbyterian church and the members were of Korean descent.
Q: How would you help future clients with similar architectural projects?
DJE: For a future client that is looking at something like this: you have to be very careful when you’re talking about moving buildings, you really need to make sure that your dreams can come true and that they’re financially fit, otherwise the dream can quickly turn into a nightmare. We would start out by looking into the particulars, and even before we get to whether you build from scratch or repurpose an existing building, we need to start by helping the church clarify their dreams and desire, what do they want for the future of the congregation 10-20-50 or even a 100 years from now. What has been so rewarding  in my work with many churches is that I become like one of their members. I go to their services to see what it’s all about. I would certainly do the same with a new church client project, even if they’re just meeting under a tree. I go feel out who they are, what their ministry is all about and what their service needs to look like to discover how to really help them.
Q: Are there any fun stories about this chapel that you designed.
DJE: My son was a teacher in Korea for seven years where he met his wife at a Korean Presbyterian church in Korea. She didn’t speak a word of English but that was ok because my son had become  very fluent in Korean. They decided to get married and decided to reside here in the US (that was good for me as a granddad). When they were looking for a church that could host their bilingual wedding, I told them I knew just the place, so that building that I designed was the wedding chapel for my son and daughter-in-law.
Q: What could a future client expect if they engaged DJEA on a similar project?

DJE: Any church that approaches us with a similar project we will empower with the right information to make wise decisions. Whether they are purchasing  a new building, need to expand, or maybe they’re looking at developing a new plot of land. We can empower them to make wise decisions because buildings are not cheap. You don’t want to make a mistake when stepping into a project like this. You need to design something that’s going to last way beyond everybody that’s involved.

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