Westwood United Methodist Church


This project illustrates how there are no throw-away spaces. It honors the city and it honors the (Wilshire) boulevard by creating a quasi-public pocket park out of what was destined to be an otherwise grandiose, people-less driveway. The simple program, a bathroom addition with planters, was opportunistically leveraged into architecture as building/landscape/urban furniture to create a new archetype - the quasi-public pocket park. The project came about when the Church leased its huge parking lot to an upscale senior housing developer for 55 years. The space between the new housing and the Church was going to be filled with a large driveway lined with planters - a significant accessibility problem. The critical urban contribution—and new Wilshire Boulevard archetype—is transforming the ubiquitous driveway into a bona fide pocket park. Every inch of marginal space was consolidated and orchestrated to create grand processional spaces, and new, found gardens. The new stairs, ramps, benches, and gardens, provide efficient, accessible circulation and the space around the Church, creating a series of discrete places to walk, sit gather, and contemplate. Always a significant architectural challenge of adding to a historic structure was compounded by the strong symmetry of the existing Sanctuary. The solution laid in creation of an “enclosed void” which houses program and allows for significant “breathing room” for the historic building. In its materials palette as well as massing that is deeply respectful of existing sanctuary, the new building relates to the old while orchestrating a new processional walk and entry into the campus. In addition to providing a striking new setting for the Church, the austere beauty of concrete poured-in-place architecture and seamlessly integrated landscape provide a wonderful amenity for the parishioners and inhabitants of the senior housing complex.

Constructed, 2010