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Context

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (est. 1961) is located on a six-acre wooded lot in historic Arlington, Virginia. This 1963 structure was originally envisioned as the first step in a multi-phased construction and expansion plan. The structure consisted only of a nave, narthex, kitchen, and several offices and classrooms. The facility was expanded in 1977 to accommodate a growing religious community. Yet as the congregation expanded, church leadership realized that the original plan was impeding their vision for the Church’s growth. To this end, they sought assistance in identifying specific programming needs and conceptual design alternatives for improvement of their buildings and grounds to create a parish with “welcoming and inspiring spaces for both now and future families worship in a community of inclusion, aspiring to tell and exemplify God's love for every human being.”

Solution

CGS Architects built on the Church’s simple physical beauty tied to developing a renovation and addition that focused on the congregation’s numerous programmatic priorities: expanded Narthex space, improved Sunday School facilities, addition of a Parish Hall, administrative updates, musical facility improvements, and universal accessibility throughout. The design features a reconfigured front entrance oriented toward site arrival with an iconic Church steeple, sheltering loggia, and clearly identifiable front door. Inside, a light filled Narthex stretches between the existing Nave and new fellowship hall to create ample space for social events with multiple venues for adult education and formal gatherings. A contemplative Chapel is located at the rear of the existing Nave and configured to allow expanded worship capacity when required. The highly collaborative effort was supported by an active and inspired congregation to ensure that the new plan reflects the spirit, the culture, and the aspirations, of this welcoming parish community.

Context

The Old Presbyterian Meeting House, one of the oldest congregations in the city of Alexandria, Virginia acquired the adjacent historic Elliot House property as a bequest from former church members. The ca. 1844 Greek Revival residence is significant within Alexandria Virginia’s Old and Historic District both for both the age and quality of its architecture and as a former residence for several prominent community members. The gable roofed house is distinguished by subtle details including painted, beaded wood shiplap siding, molded brick water table coursing, decorative door and window surrounds and wrought iron railings. Functionally incorporating the house property into the Church grounds required conformance with the Alexandria Board of Architectural Review mandates to preserve this unique piece of Alexandria’s residential architectural heritage while meeting the pressing program needs of an active, urban church.

Solution

In order to follow the city’s strict requirements to maintain the open corner space of the property, CGS Architects proposed that new construction be placed below grade and to the rear of the original structure, causing much of the new project to not be readily discernable. Two non-original structures were removed and the restored historic house was returned to its original street presence within a walled, landscaped garden setting that maintains an open street corner. The south garden forms a welcoming outdoor terrace for receptions and social functions while acting as a garden roof for the skylit, underground meeting hall space. To the north of the house, a new landscaped connection to the Old Meeting House grounds is made through a portal in the old brick garden wall separating the two properties and allowing direct access to the administrative offices and meeting rooms from the church. A new two-story rear addition contains the primary support and core elements including an elevator, fire stair, bathrooms, and mechanical spaces, that allow the original floor plan of the historic house to be restored. The new addition makes quiet references to the rooflines, windows, and materials of the original house and connects it to the underground meeting hall. The open rear porch of the house and the first-floor interior parlors are used as restored period reception rooms complimenting activities in the Church worship space.

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2909 M Street NW | Washington DC, 20007 202-965-7070
2909 M Street NW | Washington DC, 20007 | 202-965-7070
©2022 CGS Architects
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