River Road Unitarian Church

Location: Bethesda, Md.

Project type: religious

Client: River Road Unitarian Church


  • fellowship hall
  • commercial kitchen
  • classrooms
  • offices
  • site development and landscaping

River Road Unitarian Church is a national award winning project originally built in 1965. MTFA Architecture was retained to develop a master plan for the renovation and expansion of the existing facilities. While physically separated, the new and the old buildings are visually united.

The project preserves the contemplative, wooded site at the rear of the building by placing the addition on a hill between the existing church and a four lane road. The project achieves a spiritual and visual connection to the wooded landscape on the north while simultaneously achieving a needed presence on the road on the west.

The design solution maintains the integrity and unity of the original building by creating a separate new structure and connecting the two with a glass bridge over an existing driveway. The new and the existing buildings are unified in form by reflecting the modular scale, proportion and shape of the existing structure. The forms of new and old create a dynamic composition that looks original and intentional.