Architect: Pietro Belluschi/Design Assistant: Ken Richardson, 1950
At first glance, this church may
recall a rural New England design, with its steep steeple, deep porch, and wooden construction. But Zion Lutheran makes its own distinctive statement. Following the front redwood-shingled roofline of this church down from the copper-covered spire, one finds that it continues right into the angled porch area. This gives the church an overhanging, cloaking top that unifies and secures it. (The first two proposals for the roof were rejected by the congregation as too flat and industrial-looking.)
* The narthex of a church is the entry between the main entrance and the church's primary interior space. The copper narthex doors of this church were sculpted with angels by Frederic Littman, the Hungarian artist who also sculpted the doors of the Temple Beth Israel.
Against Belluschi's wishes, the church congregation insisted on a spire. The copper material of the spire is also used inside on the porch doors, altar, cross, and even in the slight recesses of the glass blocks embedded in the non-load-bearing walls. While inside, note that the distinctive laminated arches that seem ubiquitous in West Coast churches today were considered innovative in the early 1950s.
Though it's a bit of a drive, compare this with the St. Thomas More Catholic Church (1940, 3525 SW Patton Road, A. E. Doyle and Pietro Belluschi), built a decade earlier. The pastor requested that his new church be a harmonic addition to the natural landscape. This was a prime tenet of the then-nascent Northwest Regionalism movement, and lead designer Pietro Belluschi found this one of the most personally rewarding jobs of his career. Belluschi designed or approved all interior furnishings, recalling the "architect-as-unifying-artist" trend of the Arts and Crafts movement.
* The St. Thomas More came in over-budget. The original project fund was $12,000. The final billing: $12,500.Less Text