Silence and Light: Quaker Meeting House and Arts Center
Location: Sidwell Friends School, 3825 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016, USA
Decisions about space, light, and materials were inspired by the Quaker tradition. Daylight was used to organize the space. The meeting house is focused on a central focal point illuminated from above, with targeted views to the gardens and soft filtered light also coming through on all sides. The materials palette was limited to only wood and plaster. In old meeting houses wood is often used in places where it may be touched. After centuries, it retains its integrity and character. In the new meeting house, oak from long-unused Maryland barns was used to line the lower walls and floor. The exterior, too, is clad with black locust harvested from a single source in New Jersey.
Landscape elements spiral out into the site to connect the building to its surroundings. The front façade was modified, too, to extend meetings out into the campus. A porch and garden connect the building to the plaza in front of it, a site-planning move also inspired by Quaker tradition.
- A beautiful project that is very well detailed and imagined. A remarkable transformation.
- The obsolete building is thankfully lost in the new one; the new one is open, bright, and engaging.
- The exterior is masterfully handled with subtle gestures that give it interest and shape. The architect manages to create a landmark building on the site while simultaneously transforming the interior spaces into an effective worship space.
- Fascinating use of light and molding of space. Beautiful reinterpretation with a sensitive vernacular touch.
- Great sustainability strategies and results.
Engineer - structural: CVM Engineers
Engineer - MEP: Bruce E. Brooks & Associates
Engineer - civil: VIKA, Inc.
Engineer - geotechnical: GeoConcepts Engineering, Inc.
Landscape architect: Studio Bryan Hanes
Lighting consultant: ARUP
Acoustical consultant: K2 Audio