St. Charles Community Center

Location: Arlington, Va.

Project type: religious and recreation

Client: Arlington Diocese of the Catholic Church


  • sanctuary renovation
  • multipurpose room
  • conference center
  • fellowship hall
  • banquet kitchen
  • classrooms
  • offices

This 30,000-square-foot community center ties together a disparate campus of buildings and provides a welcoming expression to the surrounding community. By locating the new addition on the front corner between the renovated sanctuary and existing parochial school, the new building provides a contemporary and welcoming expression to further the mission of the church.

The St. Charles Community Center is located on an urban site near Clarendon Metro in Arlington, Va. It is the gateway from residential neighborhoods into a commercial district anchoring an intersection comprised of office buildings, a park, a law library and a church.

Programming revealed that the ministry of St. Charles Catholic Church was to reach beyond its own congregation and denomination to an extraordinarily diverse community. Instead of a gym behind a school, the vision was transformed into a community center, located symbolically in front of the main doors of the existing church. Designed to welcome all people in the community, a gallery space connects the new community center to the church on one side and the school on the other side. The community center includes conference spaces, a fellowship hall and a kitchen on the first floor. A multipurpose athletic space is located on the second floor. The building receives its form from three large gables framed by abstract crosses supporting 9-foot deep triangular trusses.

This project received the Citation of Excellence Award.