By Anita Varghese
July 17 -- The Architectural Review Board gave its
blessing Monday to the Unitarian Universalist Community Church’s
plans to remodel and expand its two adjacent parcels.
The church at the northwest corner of 18th Street and Arizona
Avenue will replace its 4,936-square-foot, two-story social
hall and classroom wing with a larger structure that extends
across the rear of the expanded site.
The structure is attached to the existing 3,338-square-foot
sanctuary building, which is eligible for national landmark
The plan also includes an 8,188-square-foot reconstructed
addition that is two stories high, with a portion of the second
story cantilevered over the surface parking lot at the alley.
The parcel contains a 1,807-square-foot, single-family residence
that has been relocated and is being remodeled for church
“This is a really challenging site in that we have
three different architectural styles to deal with,”
said Scott Albright, an associate planner for the City. “We
have a very modern, social educational building; a traditional,
almost Mission-like church facility and a bungalow-style Craftsman.
The integration of all of these into one single site is obviously
The new, larger structure -- stucco painted in two shades
of green -- features 11 clad wood and glass doors that open
onto individual balconies along the second floor at the alley.
Painted wood canopies are proposed above each set of doors.
Wood-clad doors and storefront windows that extend from the
parking lot level to the second floor bisect the rear of the
The north elevation features two balconies, while the south
elevation, adjacent to Arizona Avenue, features one wood-clad
window and a balcony with wood-clad and glass doors at the
second level above a blank wall.
The front elevation of the social hall and classroom wing
is set back approximately 90 feet from the front property
line. The existing two-story sanctuary, a central courtyard
and the one story bungalow building will obscure portions
of the proposed structure from 18th Street.
The front elevation is oriented towards the courtyard and
features a series of wood clad and glass doors adjacent to
the patio and corresponding windows above at the second floor.
A painted wood trellis, two balconies, an accent window and
painted wood canopies provide additional accents.
Several minor exterior alterations to the existing church
sanctuary are proposed in order to accommodate the addition
of the new classroom and social hall wing, including reversing
the door swings, replacing two windows with doors similar
in style and filling in one small window.
In addition, several minor exterior alterations to the relocated
bungalow are proposed in order to provide access to the interior
courtyard, including adding two new doors and replacing an
existing door with a window.
“The idea was to do something to tie together a 1914
house, a 1930s church and what would remain after remodeling
a 1960s box that was added on to the church,” said architect
Ralph Mechur, who worked on the project with landscape architect
ARB members encouraged the church to retain the old bungalow.
“I would like to thank the applicant for keeping the
bungalow because it is a very nice example of it and there
are so few of those left on that street,” said ARB member
Staff worried that the wall of the remodeled social hall
has a large blank portion that may not be appropriate along
a public street, a concern ARB members said could be addressed
“I don’t have any problem with any of the buildings,”
said ARB chair Michael Folonis. “The landscape component
might be the thing to address staff concerns about the blank
The existing sanctuary building is listed on the City’s
Historic Resources Inventory, which indicates the structure
may be eligible for the National Register.
As such, the building is also eligible for City of Santa
Monica landmark designation and considered a historic resource
for California Environmental Quality Act purposes.