New Third Church Almost Ready For Its Closeup
It's been nearly a year since the Third Church of Christ Scientist and their development partners finally got free of a lawsuit over razing the brutalist landmark at 16th and I Street NW. Since then, they've been planning the project that will take its place, and anticipate hitting the Historic Preservation Review Board next month. Drawings aren't yet available, but folks from the JBG-ICG Properties joint venture came before ANC 2B last week, and details are starting to emerge.
From the verbal description, even though the office building will be a sizeable 156,000 square feet, the site sounds relatively verdant. Landscape architect Michael Vergason has designed a 55-foot-wide strip of public space on 16th Street, with mature trees on the building side that will form a canopy with smaller street trees across the sidewalk, as well as a water feature.
The building itself, called 900 16th Street, has been designed in a classical style—to be expected considering the tendencies of its architect, Robert A.M. Stern (and unlike the city's other new church/office building, at 10th and G). It will rise 11 floors, with 150 parking spaces underground*, and feature a restaurant on the corner of 16th and I. The church will be embedded in the office building, but distinguished with a glass atrium on the second and third floors and a retail-style storefront for the bookstore. At 10,000 square feet, it's about the same size, but has a much smaller footprint; the current building has a lot of unusable space. Darrow Kirkpatrick, chair of the church's redevelopment committee, tells me the new auditorium will have room for 400 people, while the current one seats only 125.
The development team will come back before the ANC a couple times over the next month, and after clearing the Historic Preservation Review Board, will submit its planned unit development application to the Zoning Commission early next year. There's no timeline to commence construction, but the team does hope to finish up by early 2015—by which time they'll hopefully also have a tenant.
* An earlier version contained inaccurate information relayed by a public relations representative for the developers.