‘Open arms’ theme inspires AIA Montana Citation for Missoula Salvation Army Community Center

By: CTA In The News
3 November 2016

CTA_post_SalvationArmyMissoula_AIAMontanaCitation_KoelAwardThe Salvation Army Corps Community Center in downtown Missoula, MT, was presented a Citation Award at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Montana Chapter’s Excellence in Design Awards ceremony earlier this month. Extensive teamwork made the project possible (documented by designer and PM quotes in this blog post from November 2015), but here are details on the design and process itself:

The Salvation Army of Missoula had been operating in downtown Missoula, MT, since 1894; and in October 2015, the organization held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new 11,500 sq. ft. Corps Community Center at 355 South Russell Street, the culmination of years of planning and effort among many in the Missoula community.

Tight deadlines, budget-consciousness, and sensitive zoning requirements were all concerns, but quality design was never compromised in the architecture, which included a worship space, a fellowship hall, a commercial kitchen, classrooms, offices, and a social services wing consisting of social work offices, laundry, and shower amenities for the local transient population. Phase two of the program, still awaiting funding, will include a gym with locker rooms, concessions, additional office space, and a game room.

The philosophy of the siting was to ensure that the project provided “open arms” to guests who arrive by car, bike, or on foot, suggesting two main entries that equally face both the parking lot and the street. The result was a simple, glassy, open reception lobby that focuses its view upon the distant and picturesque Rattlesnake Canyon area.

The $2.5 million project, which achieves humble, understated warmth, public access, northwestern character, and security, was built upon the imagery of two hands coming together and reaching out — to help those in need, to worship, and to open themselves up to the needs of the community.


  • Principal-in-Charge: Brad Sperry
  • Project Manager: Shane Jacobs
  • Design Architect: David Koel
  • Project Architect: Nick Bowers
  • Revit: Ryan Markuson
  • Structural: Tom Poremba
  • Interiors: Catherine Jakes
  • Landscape Architecture: Ezra Williams
  • Landscape Architecture: Megan McMahon[/ezcol_1half][ezcol_1half_end]
  • HVAC: Gerry Nichols-Pagel
  • HVAC: Nathan Ratz
  • Electrical: Carl Maehl
  • Electrical: Lance Jones
  • Electrical: David Sodini
  • Plumbing: Ron McLean
  • Fire Protection: Dan Kopp
  • Fire Protection: Mark Schaff
  • Marketing: Randy Rupert[/ezcol_1half_end]

“Every project we take on, no matter the budget, has the hidden potential to be experienced as either a daily burden, or as a sculptural work of art — it’s all in how the team approaches it. With this rudimentary program, the Salvation Army CTA/Client team could have decided to just kick something out the door that was quite average, and moved on. But we didn’t. The synergy, collaboration, selflessness, and creativity exhibited by this team, in spite of the very tight budget, resulted in an award-winning project that, in my mind, is a shining example of not only CTA’s relentless pursuit for simplicity, elegance, and restraint, but also what can happen when inspiration grabs a hold of a team, and begins to overflow.”

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