First Unitarian Universalist Church

The First Unitarian Universalist Church (UUC) has been selected to receive AIA Virginia’s Test of Time Award in 2019. The award recognizes a structure at least 25 years old (but no more than 50) from the date of initial construction. Building use may change over time if the overall design is cherished as a significant contribution to the community and the built environment. The award will be presented at the Visions for Architecture gala on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, at the Hilton Downtown Richmond.

UUC was designed by Ulrich Franzen, a German-born graduate of the Harvard School of Design. Built in 1972, the design reflects Louis I. Kahn’s influence, simultaneously complementing and distinguishing itself from its more traditional setting in Richmond’s Carillon Historic District.

Comprised of interlocking blocks of scored concrete and glass, the building proudly displays the how it was assembled, conveying a sense of honest purpose. The strong, solid massing, formal repetition, and simple materials give it a grounded sense of place and permanence on its prominent site.

The building frames shaded outdoor spaces for quiet contemplation but also opens up views to the garden through floor to ceiling glass, bringing a sense of peace and serenity to the meeting hall inside.

In 2002 and 2012, respectful renovations were completed by Quinn Evans Architects.

Called a “timeless work of abstract geometry,” the UUC has admirably met the changing needs of the Unitarian congregation with only modest renovations throughout its 47 year history.

Image credits

Photo by Ansel Olson. Image courtesy Quinn Evans Architects.

Photo by Ansel Olson. Image courtesy Quinn Evans Architects.

Photo by Ansel Olson. Image courtesy Quinn Evans Architects.

Photo by Ansel Olson. Image courtesy Quinn Evans Architects.