Friday, September 23, 2011

St. Augustine's to Get a New Home


Oftentimes when large scale redevelopment occurs, existing structures and institutions are eradicated with promises (in the form of project renderings) of shiny new buildings and bucolic surroundings that usually don’t quite live up to the drawings. In the case of the Southwest Waterfront, while some businesses and institutions will not return once The Wharf is built out, St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church will get a new home and endowment, but remain at the prominent corner of 6th Street and Maine Avenue across from Arena Stage. Next to the church will be between 90 and 100 condo units built by PN Hoffman to complement the design of the townhouse residences across 6th Street at Tiber Island (Bethesda-based SK&I Architectural Design Group will design the condo building for PN Hoffman).

Prior to the current church building’s construction around 1965, parishioners would meet in each other’s homes to worship. They may need to do that again while the new church is being built, but according to Kwasi Holman, Junior Warden at St. Augustine’s, they are still figuring out an interim location. Holman told SW…TLQTC that the physical plant of the current building could not hold up for much longer, so the church has been working for the past five years to find a way to build a new home. While St. Augustine’s has come to an agreement with PN Hoffman that insures the church will be able to build a new church on its land, it is still a long way from cutting the ribbon on their new home.

St. Augustine’s is looking to build a new sanctuary for 120 parishioners, as well as continue their community outreach, including Bread for Life - a program that feeds the homeless every Sunday, youth outreach programs, Grounds for Discussion Forum, and other events. They have chosen Arlington, VA-based MTFA Architecture, Inc. to design the new church. It looks like concept drawings of the new St. Augustine’s appear on MTFA’s website. The architects describe the project on their website as follows:

This mixed-use project will be a cornerstone of the new southwest waterfront development in Washington, D.C. The program includes worship, community services and residential services such as affordable housing and homeless shelter.
Design drivers for the project heighten the church's presence, sustainability and connections. The resulting master plan envisions a two-story, 20,000-square-foot, phased building. MTFA is working with the developer and city review officials through the "planned-unit development" (PUD) process.
The project embraces the developing community surrounding St. Augustine's Episcopal Church to partner with others to heighten the church's role, image and presence as a visible beacon of God's love. The sanctuary is elevated off of the ground floor and encompassed in glass so that it becomes the beacon within the community. It is projected beyond the facades of the main building so that it is visible from surrounding streets. The steel cross rooted in the ground pierces the second floor and reaches high above the building toward the sky similar to a boat mast or a shepherd's crook.
St Augustine’s is scheduled to start construction during phase one of development of The Wharf, which is supposed to get underway by the end of 2012. However, the church portion of phase one probably won’t start until 2013-14. Detailed drawings of the new church will be available when the Second Stage PUD is filed for The Wharf in the second half of 2012.

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