Some building additions are jarring. Differing architectural styles, materials, construction methods and age can make additions appear incompatible. Often we see an early 1900s, stone Gothic Revival church with a 1960s, flat-roofed brick “education wing” stuck on. No doubt, the choice of a functional, utilitarian block addition made for wise stewardship. It just doesn’t make for pleasing architecture when it is easily visible.
Education Wing Appended
to a Gothic Revival Church
a compatible design does not require slavish reproduction of style or even
materials. A typical example
is the stone, Gothic sanctuary building married to a later office-parish
hall addition built in the related (and later) Tudor style using
half-timber wall finish. Pittsburgh’s
New Church (Swedenborgian): Tudor Parish Hall (l) Gothic Church (r)
disparate styles of church architecture can be joined, sometimes after a
peaceful but awkward coexistence. Wayne
Presbyterian Church (near
Wayne (PA) Presbyterian Gothic Revival Church and Georgian Chapel
Photos Courtesy G. Prichard Wayne History OnLine
Joining Wayne Presbyterian Church and Chapel
Photo at left Courtesy GYA Architects
In 1998 a creative, atrium-like gathering area by Philadelphia architect George Yu joined the two. Its use of glass and steel clearly avoided trying to match either building. References to Gothic arches as well as strong Georgian horizontals and verticals pay respect to each. Because the new structure eschews solid walls, it understates its own architecture, integrating more easily with its partners.
Original Shadyside Structure Completed 1890
straightforward way to achieve compatibility is to use a single style.
At Shadyside Presbyterian, through careful planning, an
accommodating building lot and adequate resources, a consistent
Richardsonian Romanesque motif has been maintained since the 1890
completion of the third church building.
The central tower with gabled transepts and extensions and the
round pastor’s study tower made up the initial structure.
GREEN-Original Church 1890 BLUE-Chapel 1892 YELLOW Chapel Addition 1908
RED-Chancel & Offices 1938 ORANGE-Parish Hall 1953 WHITE-North Porch 1983
During construction, the church used its original frame building. As soon as the main structure was complete, the frame building was replaced by the present chapel. It was ready in 1892 and connected to the sanctuary by the colonnaded walkway, often called the cloister (a stricter definition reserves this term for the area enclosed by the walkway). Around 1908, the chapel was extended to the north.
"Cloister" and Chapel Completed 1892
With the exception of
a temporary framed vestibule at the front entrance, the exterior of the
church did not change again until 1937. To
accommodate interior worship space
modifications, a semi-circular apse was
added to the east end of the church. At
that time, administrative offices were added near the pastor’s study.
Time and the quality of workmanship have obscured evidence that
these were additions.
Apse and Offices Completed 1938
The next major
addition was the parish hall to the north of the existing structures on
ground that slopes gently down from the main building.
Completed in 1953, the rock-faced ashlar facing blends well with
the earlier structures. The
flat roof of this hall might seem out of place on eleventh and twelfth
century Romanesque architecture, but the designers found precedent. One reason for this
roof shape was as a provision for a possible addition of a second story.
The underlying structure was designed to accommodate this.
Up through the
construction of the parish hall, it would not be “intuitively obvious to
the causal observer” that any portion of
had only one porch. In church
architecture, a porch is an appendage to the main structure used as a
transitional space. It serves
much the same purpose as a narthex (which is integrated within the main
structure). The gabled and shed-roofed structures at the southwest corner form
a porch. There was no
corresponding feature at the northeast corner.
1983 North Porch (l) and Original South Porch (r)
By 1983, the church
saw the need for more classroom and meeting space.
The solution was a “porch” to the left of the main entrance
(which houses the
North Porch Limestone Lighter Color Than Original Sandstone
The other differences
of the new porch are more apparent. The
sandstone facing of the bulk of the church is brown-gray shade.
The 1983 porch is of limestone, with a cooler gray, more directly
on the color scale between white and black.
There was a starker color contrast before nine decades of black
soot were removed from the church in a 1991 surface cleaning.
Shadyside Cleaned - Photo Courtesy Tom Auel
Original Column Detail (l) & Simplified 1983 Column (r)
shows diminished detail in the carving on the new porch.
This may be attributable to the high cost to replicate the
intricacy of the original features. Even
in 1953, somewhat elaborate carved medallions were affordable for the
parish hall. And so,
only the last major building addition reveals itself by its appearance.
The form, scale and fenestration still harmonize with the structure
as a whole.
Picturesque Juncture of Various Building Campaigns
Presbyterian Church has been blessed with the resources and determination
to grow its buildings through additions designed in keeping with the
original landmark quality architecture.
The reliance on Richardsonian Romanesque has resulted in a pleasing,
rambling, organic appearance. It will be interesting to see if there are future expansions to the
church that challenge this long-standing consistency.
Stewards of valuable gifts sometimes face daunting decisions.