When the 2011 catastrophic fire ravaged the historic Westport Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, much of the church’s structure and finishes were completely destroyed. Fortunately, however, the original limestone facade survived in good condition. Rather than knock down the building and start anew, Kansas City-based design firm BNIM reconstructed the iconic church, from the painstaking restoration of sacred components to the creation of a new addition that features modern and eco-friendly elements.
Built in 1905, the 27,000-square-foot multi-story Westport Presbyterian Church is one of the most iconic buildings in Kansas City’s historic Westport community. BNIM and the community came together to rebuild the church and tackle the challenges of preserving original elements while crafting a space that was also dynamic and progressive. Parts of the church considered not sacred were deconstructed and large amounts of salvaged material—from the reclamation of 40,000 feet of pinewood framing material to the reuse of original limestone—were used in reconstruction.
The restored and renovated church features a new addition with a 150-seat sanctuary, 40-seat chapel, gathering space, fellowship room, 3,000-square-foot multipurpose room, a 1,000-square-foot street-facing “community room”, administrative offices and office space that will be leased to a Westport area nonprofit. The renovation includes energy saving elements such as LEDs and contemporary stormwater management practices. All stained glass was restored and reinstalled in contemporary mounting. The project won an AIA Kansas Merit Award and an AIA Kansas City Citation Award.
“This is one that put a smile on all our faces,” said an AIA Kansas City jury member. “There was a fire, and it destroyed just about everything on this church except for the stone walls. For the community to come together and rebuild this, and do it in such a thoughtful, elegant, and modern way, was something the jury really applauded.” Another jury member added: “It wasn’t just a restoration, it was a repositioning of the whole church itself. It made for a better building, and we think more connected to the community.”
Images via BNIM