First Congregational Church of Long Beach

First Congregational Church of Long Beach was established in 1888 with the assistance of the Bixby Family.  Their current Florentine Renaissance facility located on the corner of 3rd & Cedar was constructed in 1914.  It features Tiffany Windows, a large traditional pipe organ and handcrafted woodwork throughout.  It was dedicated as a Historical Landmark in 1979.

Our project is an addition to this magnificent historic structure to house classrooms, meeting rooms, a Social Hall and Courtyard for the Church.  The 17,963 s. f. addition is 2 stories over a basement that aligns with the main levels of the existing structure.  The underlying concept for the project was to provide a usable, friendly outdoor space, a core to the ‘Urban Campus’ while still providing the needed functional expansion.  The addition is pushed to the edges of the property, wrapping around and creating the courtyard.  The street side of the courtyard is enclosed by a brick clad façade wall, penetrated by oversized gated openings, providing a welcoming vista and connection with the street.  The new rooms and balconies all front onto and connect with the courtyard, giving it activity and vitality.

The addition was conceived to be sympathetic to and sub-servient of the existing historic structure without attempting to imitate it.  The massing, materials and articulation of some of the secondary architectural elements of the existing building were emulated and ‘extruded’ to create the Cedar Avenue facade for the addition.  Brick was selected that matched the existing brick, and pre-cast concrete elements were designed to emulate the existing Terra Cotta detailing.  This façade element became a scrim behind which the addition occurred.  The balance of the articulation for the addition was treated in a contemporary fashion with crisp stucco walls, clerestory ribbon windows, and large overhangs on a ‘Light/Floating’ metal roof.  These treatments were purposeful to contrast with the elements alluding to the Historical Structure.

The project provided opportunities to improve upon the existing structure.  The oversized elevator, ramps and aligning levels of the addition provide accessibility to all levels of the existing structure.  The addition also includes a central plant chiller and ice storage HVAC system.  This provides modern energy efficient cooling, operational cost savings, and simplified plant management for both the new and existing buildings.

The addition was designed to honor its historic neighbor, while at the same time improving upon the lifestyle, image and vitality of this urban church campus.  The project successfully makes a place for the Congregation to mingle and interact, both indoors and out, while providing necessary expansion space for the next millennium.

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