Shadyside Presbyterian Church

Pittsburgh, PA

The historic Shadyside Presbyterian Church, originally designed in 1890 by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, the successor firm of famous American architect Henry Hobson Richardson, was in need of enhancements in order to better serve its evolving and diverse congregation. Celli-Flynn Brennan developed a program that focused on re-creating and re-inventing spaces that were underutilized in the building along with developing two small key-point additions to create a more cohesive facility.

Prior to the renovation, dining and fellowship occurred in the gymnasium one level below the church sanctuary and there was no obvious connection between these spaces. Wayfinding through the facility was circuitous and primary entry points to the school and church offices were enigmatic to the first-time visitor. Celli-Flynn Brennan established connectivity between these important but disparate spaces by inserting new, centrally located public gathering and circulation spaces between the Westminster Place and Amberson Avenue entry points. On the Westminster Place façade a well pronounced compatible stone entrance addition was created that incorporates and encloses the adjacent cloister which now welcomes congregants and visitors alike to this main floor entry point. Beyond the cloister was an outdoor courtyard that is now enclosed to offer a sky-lit atrium space supporting after-church fellowship with the cloister as passageway to the main worship space on the west and to provide an ancillary space to the church’s chapel and parlor on the east.

The chapel was renovated as well with ornate stencil work on the walls and ceiling of the altar area and stenciled border patterns around the coffers of the chapel’s main cathedral ceiling. Custom designed chairs with carved backs reflecting the muntin patterns of the staining glass windows within the chapel replaced the fixed pews. These changes coupled with new cork flooring and new lighting recreate the chapel as a rich ceremonial space with flexibility for multiple functions of various sizes.

A new central lobby space was also developed beyond the atrium creating an information center and waiting area that links all of these main level spaces with the ground floor through an adjacent sky-lit stair tower/entry addition. This entrance presents to Amberson Avenue via the circular drive at the ground floor level and provides a more prominent access point to the newly renovated nursery and Sunday school facilities with a small lobby space of its own. The adjacent gymnasium on this level is now renovated into a well appointed multi-purpose parish hall that can support over 200 people for a formal banquet event and a separate classroom/lecture hall with A/V systems to support any style presentation.

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