Third Church of Christ, Scientist, Washington, D.C. Oh, wait ….
The DC Historic Preservation Review Board had designated the 37-year-old Third Church of Christ, Scientist a Historic Landmark and prevented its demolition, against the wishes of the congregation, the Mayor’s Office, and anyone with at least minimal eyesight who passes 900 16th St. NW. The structure is in the mercifully-extinct style of “Brutalism,” a term derived from the French béton brut, “raw concrete.” It is a huge concrete blockhouse.
Yesterday Harriet Tregoning, Director of the DC Office of Planning, acting as Mayor’s Agent for Historic Preservation, issued what appears to be a final ruling on the issue: junk the joint.
The report observes that “design errors” and “defective workmanship” make the building unsuitable for human pursuits of any kind, even with huge operating expenditures for lighting, temperature and humidity control and ventilation. The DC Government will permit the structure’s demolition. The full document is here. Some excerpts:
— The building’s design and choice of materials, particularly the use of uninsulated concrete, were experimental and it could not have been predicted when the building opened in 1971 whether it would succeed as a place of worship. …the experiment failed badly.
— Adaptive reuse of the church building is not a viable option.
— The use of uninsulated concrete also resulted in the inability to stabilize the wide range of temperature and humidity levels that exist within the building.
— …the Church could operate in the existing building for only three to five years before exhausting its cash reserves.