ST. AUGUSTINE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Location: Washington, DC
Size: 16,396 Square Feet
Client: St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church
Type: Master Plan and New Church
St. Augustine’s existing one-story 1960’s building was in disrepair and on the verge of being overwhelmed by surrounding development. The congregation envisioned a new church building that would showcase and connect their active congregation to the community. This was achieved by designing an efficient two-story church with an iconic sanctuary on the active side of the site. The remaining portion of the site was sold to a multi-family residential developer, which served as the economic engine to build the new church building.
The concept of a ship with sails moving forward relates to the waterfront site and religious symbolism. The undulating, curved exterior brick wall and the free-flowing mechanical screen above appear to be pulled forward by the nave, reinforcing the early Christian symbol of the Church as a ship. To further establish the church’s presence in the community, the sanctuary is elevated above the ground floor, lifting one corner toward the sky to emphasize verticality. A great canvas of glass shines transparent as a beacon of light for all to see at night while bowed forward to reflect the surrounding community during the day. The church’s welcoming nature to the neighborhood is expressed with cast stone profiles representing open doors at the main entrance. Inside, the baptismal font from the original church marks the start of a procession up the open stair, which leads worshipers to the liturgical “upper room” – the elevated sanctuary. The street-level fellowship hall, sculpted with a curved masonry wall to soften the building’s street presence, supports the church’s active outreach ministry, and multipurpose classrooms provide a place for community meetings and religious formation.