Saturday, February 23, 2008
Third Church of Christ, Scientist
Located on the northwest corner of 16th and Eye Streets NW is the Third Church of Christ, Scientist (900 16th Street NW)--just three blocks north of the White House. The church was designed by Araldo Cossutta, an architect in the renowned firm of I.M. Pei and is an example of Brutalism architecture--a movement in the 1950s and 1960s that called for the use of rough concrete as the building medium. Across the plaza from the church is a Christian Science Reading Room.
For many years now, the congregants of Third Church have petitioned to tear down what they consider an architectural eyesore and put up a church more fitting of the historical downtown setting in which they are located. Unfortunately, incomprehensively, and against the protests of the church and congregation, in 2007 the D.C. Historic Preservation Board voted 7 - 0 to grant the building landmark status. As a result, the building cannot be torn down or altered.
Needless to say, the architecture is incongruous with many of the buildings in the area--both historic and modern minimalist. It has occasionally been referred to as an apocryphal, doomsday fallout shelter or an electrical substation. That aside, the church is part of the coalition of churches called the Downtown Cluster of Congregations--a collaborative coalition of congregations throughout Washington working on social issues.
Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 2/08