Housing Complex

“The Ugliest Church in D.C.” Is Now the Ugliest Half-Church in D.C.

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Some call it "the ugliest church in D.C."; others say it's simply misunderstood. But all can agree on one thing: The Third Church of Christ, Scientist at 16th and I streets NW is not much longer for this world.

On Sept. 30, a development team consisting of the JBG Companies and ICG Properties applied for a permit to raze the Brutalist church. Now, as the snow-flecked photo above shows, the demise of the building is underway.

For old times' sake, here's a reminder of what the church looked like in better times (i.e., October 2013). The big tree in front of the building appears to have been a casualty of the demolition.

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Photos by Aaron Wiener

Comments

  1. #1

    A gaping maw.

  2. #2

    They went after the bells first. Heh.

  3. #3

    Good riddance -- even though it'll be replaced by another boring glass box.

  4. #4

    Art currently considered ugly must be destroyed.

  5. #5

    I did my thesis on preserving this site, and infilling the courtyard with an 8 story tower in order to preserve the church. It's a shame that this site will be turned into a generic office site, as it provided the only opportunity to view a building in the round in all of downtown. If you don't see the beauty in this building, you shouldn't be allowed to call yourself an architect.

  6. #6

    I take no credit for this.

    Coulda been reused real clever-like, particularly of the hunger of the capitalist pig-dogs had been slaked with a relaxed height limit.

  7. #7

    This hideous building should have been preserved? If you can see the beauty in this building, you are blind.

  8. #8

    As someone who works across the street from the building (vs. someone who just has to write about it theoretically in a thesis), the building is/was hideously ugly. There are plenty of other examples of brutalism in the city. Being able to see all sides of its ugliness and examine in full how little it added to the life and vitality of the neighborhood does not forgive its sins. I am glad that some architects found the monstrosity beautiful (i'd hate if all architects thought the same and innovation died), but if all architects thought that was the definition of beauty, what a sad, windowless, and nonfunctional future for our nation to look forward to...

  9. #9

    They will be going after the FBI building next I hope

  10. #10

    Whether you liked the building or not (I didn't, most of the time) if we prevent owners from taking down their buildings we only encourage people to build nondescript building that no one will ever miss. While we may miss some buildings, Wright Tokyo Hotel comes to mind, we need to encourage creativity by not stifling freedom.

  11. #11

    Most brutalist buildings don't get knocked down because of arbitrary taste issues... they get knocked down because that style consistently fails to succeed in its primary purpose. If a building is cold, stuffy, dark, and uncomfortable, it is not fair to suggest that its owners are knocking it down due to the whims of a fad. It's bad architecture, regardless of whether or not it is historically important.

  12. #12

    This is one of many local "Modern but Obsolete" icons which are difficult to repurpose, so if they sit on valuable real estate, demolition is the only alternative. Others, like Comsat Labs in Clarksburg or the Vitro building in Aspen Hill sit empty and rot. What's next for the Intelsat building on Connecticut Ave. - with its namesake occupant moving out? Can it be viable as non-owner-occupied office building? Historic designation may keep old buildings from the wrecking ball but does that save them? Creative re-use (such as what's planned for the old Bell Labs building in Homedel NJ) is the way they can survive and thrive.

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