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Marc Fisher provides a glorious update about the ongoing battle over the brutalist Third Church of Christ, Scientist down at 16th and I Streets. To any unfamiliar parties, let me get you up to speed: members want to demolish this hideous, cash vacuum of a building and erect a new church. Preservationists say it’s a great example of Brutalist architecture, and that it needs to be left alone. The preservationists were out in full force, with many a desperate suggestion about how to retain the building, everything from adding a restaurant or retail to the ground floor to constructing a structure that “could be cantilevered over the existing church”—-whatever increases the church’s money flow. But the most ridiculous bit of testimony has to go to this guy:
There were choice moments throughout the day, as a concrete restoration contractor testifying for the preservationists admitted that his conclusion that the concrete damage on the church exterior could be repaired was identical to his conclusions about every single building he’d ever examined—”Anything can be repaired,” he said.
I personally believed the Third Church of Christ, Scientist should be sold off to a club-owner and renamed “Brutal” or “Octagon” or “Ugly” or “Cement.” In a stunning turn, it appears church members aren’t into that idea. Fisher says that a decision isn’t expected for some weeks, but speculates on some of the judge’s leanings:
[District planning director Harriet Tregoning] appeared to be sympathetic to the church’s predicament, focusing many of her questions on the extremely high cost of making the building usable and sustainable. But she didn’t seem terribly impressed by or interested in the religious freedom issue, which no representative of an elected official in the District is likely to want to wade into.
That will be left to the courts, which is where the church will head directly if Tregoning doesn’t let them tear down their home and build a new one.
For now, the main issue is money, and it’s clear that the church doesn’t have much of it left. (They’ve blown more than $100,000 just fighting this battle through the D.C. bureaucracy, their leaders said.)
Photo by Rodeomilano