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Architectural Review Board Blesses Church Remodel

By Anita Varghese
Staff Writer

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 status.

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 use.

“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 a challenge.”

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 building.

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 Steve Ludowitz.

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 Joan Charles.

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 with landscaping.

“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 wall.”

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.

 

 

“This is a really challenging site in that we have three different architectural styles to deal with.” Scott Albright


 

“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.” Ralph Mechur

 

 

 

 

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