Brutalist Style Church, Third Church of Christ, to be Torn Down at 16th and I St, NW

16th and I Street, NW

Washington Business Journal updates the Third Church of Christ saga:

“All that’s left to do is to knock the old building down.

In its place, JBG and ICG Properties will construct a 141,026-square-foot commercial building — 125,190 square feet of office, 4,098 square feet of retail and 11,738 square feet of religious space — designed by Robert A.M Stern Associates.”

They say Miller & Chevalier law firm will be the anchor tenant. We judged the 1971 designed building here. Will anyone miss it?


45 Comment

  • justinbc

    I don’t know that I’ll miss it, but I did always appreciate the uniqueness of it.

    • Well said.

    • One of the few notable or unique post-WWII buildings in DC. The new building merely will be bland. The Christian Scientists are literally dying out and have been off loading their churches all over the country (and in Adams Morgan). They could have gone out in a more calssy way here.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I will. I think I’m the one and only person who likes Brutalist architecture.

  • Yes, I will miss it.

  • I’ll miss it. Especially since the building that will replace it is incredibly boring. Congrats to those who worked to tear down the church – now this corner will look like every other corner downtown.

    • “…those who worked to tear down the church..” include the congregation itself, which will have a space in the new building. Maybe after many years in a unique building they are looking forward to something which you rightly call incredibly boring (but with an outdoor cafe.)

      • The Christian Scientsis are literally dying out. the idea that they need more space is laughable.

        • The congregation felt that the church itself was keeping people away; newcomers couldn’t even find the door. So, I can’t speak to the demographics of Christian Scientists, but removing barriers to joining the congregation is probably a good thing for them. And to be sure, the congregation played a HUGE part in getting permission to tear their own church down.

          I won’t miss this concrete behemoth, unique as it was.

    • Ugh, that new building is terrible. Looks like something from 20 years ago. Something ugly from 20 years ago, that is.

  • I will miss it.

  • Let’s invite the Tea Party to a prayer service there on demolition day!

    • Oh, I get it, because then they will die. Which is funny! Because of the death part.

    • There are probably more Tea Partiers than there are Christian Scientists, so I doubt if they would all fit into this odd space. But, yeah, let’s throw a random political comment in here! Death to difference of opinion!

  • This thing can die a horrible death.

  • I think it will be a loss ot the architectural vocabulary of the city. The new building certainly doesn’t qualify as architecture, there is nothing artistic about it.

    • agree, just another uninteresting corner of the city will exist there in the future. I’m sure it will make money though and isn’t that the real reason all this is happening?

  • DC has so few “statement” buildings of note, it’s too bad that we’re losing the few that remain. Brutalism can be terrible (FBI building, WMATA HQ, the list goes on) but I actually like this one. Still, it is right by the White House and never seemed to really fit there. Mixed feelings, I guess.

  • I’ll be happy to see it go and bummed to see what replaces it. Brutalism was shitty “architecture” full of fear. Good riddance. I’m all for historic preservation but this horrible branch of modernism helped killed urbanity. Brutalist buildings are inhuman and largely embraced by people for conceptual reasons that have nothing to do with living or working in them.

  • I think brutalism was an experiment gone awry. It actually was just a cheap way of building buildings in Europe and mostly used for public buildings/housing that someone didn’t feel merited larger budgets. Then Pei and others redefined it as form over function. But i never thought brutalism aged gracefully. This building is no exception. I see that some architects are now referencing it…. notably at the McMillan site (across from the brutalist Washington Hospital Center)…. i think it’s the wrong way to go. Brutalism was an oppressive, cold and imposing style. I don’t think it felt very human and i don’t think it made for a inviting or livable environment. Check the Boston City hall plaza … nobody ever hangs out there cause it’s oppressive.

  • This will be a sad event and I will miss this landmark. Like it or not, Brutalist Architecture was a valid movement. IMHO the business of Historic Preservation in this town ought to be rethought since it oftentimes seems subjective.

    • I agree. We would be wise to remember that 50-60 years ago, people wanted to bulldoze all the Victorian architecture, in much the same way that everyone wants to dispose of everything Brutalist. History repeating…

  • I have a selfish reason for wanting this building to stay. I take the 32, 36 or 39 to work and it travels along I Street. I can only imagine the traffic tie ups the demolition/rebuild is going to cause.

  • I’ll miss it. The law firm building (ugh) won’t be nearly as interesting. The sanctuary is a very cool space, and the complex could have been repurposed by the church, or someone else, had they been committed to what they themselves created. But the allure of cashing out was too great, one assumes. Also, it isn’t accurate to say that it’s a “1971 designed building,” considering that there’s a very prominent cornerstone (?) at the entrance with a huge 1970 carved into it.

  • I went to a university that had a lot of brutalist buildings. It was a pretty depressing place to spend much time in.

  • What does it look like on the inside?

  • I’ve actually been inside, and it’s nothing like the exterior. So very right and light in design. A genuinely warm space…inside.

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