Church Wins National Architecture Award

Church Wins National Architecture Award

Sanctuary project of Vienna Presbyterian and LeMay Erickson Architects cited for excellent design.

The Vienna Presbyterian Church and LeMay Erickson Architects were presented Friday with a 2001 Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art & Architecture (IFRAA) Religious Architecture award. The award recognizes the new addition they built between 1994 and 1998. The addition contains the sanctuary and several Christian education classrooms.

"The award confirms what we recognize: that their work was quite extraordinary," said senior pastor Peter James of LeMay Erickson.

IFRAA presents awards in six categories, all of which recognize design execution. Vienna Presbyterian and LeMay Erickson competed with more than 200 submissions in their category, religious architecture.

This national award isn’t the first award that this project has garnered. The project also won the Virginia Society American Institute of Architecture Award in 2000.

In creating the addition, Vienna Presbyterian and LeMay Erickson focused on several objectives. The new building needed to be consistent with the original church building, which dates from 1874. LeMay Erickson used red cedar siding on the addition’s exterior and painted it white, in order to complement the newer sanctuary with the older one.

The firm also needed to comply with town architecture regulations, which monitor how buildings fit in with existing town architecture in Vienna.

"They placed this building marvelously," James said.

A second objective was to create a wider sanctuary, with pews closer to the minister. The older sanctuary was long and narrow.

"We really worked hard to try to make it an intimate worship space," said Neal Roseberry, an associate with LeMay Erickson and project manager for the addition. "When the room is full, it’s really a dynamic space to be in," James agreed. "It moves away from lecture hall design. It moves to a communal [space], with people gathered around the Word and sacrament," James said.

Another objective complementing the openness of the sanctuary was the use of light. Instead of stained glass, they opted for natural light.

"Light in the Judeo-Christian heritage is an important image. The image of light in the sanctuary fits in with our core theological belief," James said.

Although Roseberry said he appreciated the award, he added that the relationship between the firm and the church was very satisfying.

"It’s just rare to have a client relationship that was more enjoyable," Roseberry said.

Since its completion, the sanctuary has received favorable reviews from the congregation. Besides allowing more room for church growth, the openness of the sanctuary has appealed to many, said James and Building Committee and church member John Davidovich.

"It’s brighter, the sound is better. It’s more intimate," Davidovich said.