I've led every building project at GCC since the early days, and I often get asked, "Do you regret any part of the design?" I always say, "Yes, I regret the 'Art Wall'. In fact, I will be able to die a happy man when the Art Wall gets torn down."
Let me tell you the story of the Art Wall...
Sixteen years ago I was sitting with GCC's building committee in our rented offices, and we were discussing details about our first building, already under construction. We originally were going to build a small auditorium to the east of the Atrium (the location where we are currently building the Commons)--but had to make the difficult decision to wait on that addition. We just didn't have the money. So we ended up with a large, flat wall. It looked as though the building had been cut-off.
Discussions began: What do we do with this wall? None of us could imagine it being very long until we continued building that direction, so we didn't want to spend a bunch of money on it, only to tear it down within a couple years. Let's just do something temporary with the wall. The architect spoke up and said he would give it some thought.
The next week he came to the meeting and laid down a colored brick design for the end wall (yes, I still have it). None of us had any idea what it was. Then he told us how he drew it: "I was getting really frustrated, and couldn't figure out what to do. So I fell asleep, or partially asleep, actually I was in a meditative state, and my hands just started moving around the page. It was like an out-of-body experience where I was watching myself draw. When I came fully awake again--this is what was on the paper."
I should have known right then that we were in trouble. But who is going to argue with a man who just designed your building in a coma? None of us had a better idea. And it was a temporary wall, right?
A couple months later the wall began to go up. And I regretted it from the very first day. The #1 question at GCC became, "What's that supposed to be on the wall?" People would drive by and crash in the ditch trying to figure it out. Men would be ready to give their life to Jesus but just had to know the full meaning of the wall first. Some saw an angel, others saw praying hands. I heard it described as a flower, dragon, variou body parts, and even the parting of the Red Sea. The only thing I could see was the architect in a coma and I wanted to send him back there.
Mark, in true Beeson-style, began to take the catastrophe and make it an event. So he answered, "It's just art!" And it became known thereafter as The Art Wall.
In the early days, in addition to saying "It's just Art!" -- we would tell people, "It is only temporary!" But months became years. The congregation grew too fast to put a building that direction, and the Art Wall became permanent.
I have looked forward to the day when the Art Wall would come down. And that day is here. Today the builders began at the top, removing the Art Wall brick-by-brick, preparing for the Commons addition that is underway. Others heard the jackhammer, but I'm pretty sure I heard angels singing. In fact, the clouds parted, and a dove descended and landed on the shoulder of the man doing the demolition. No one else saw it, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.