The following is a terrific column by Marian Thomas from the Kansas City Star newspaper about our church’s rebuilding effort!
By MARIAN McCAA THOMAS, Special to The Star – In a recent column (“Modernism Struggles for Respect in KC Streetscape,” June 6), Steve Paul commented that builders should embrace “a sense of community, history, landscape and architectural integrity.”
As a member of Westport Presbyterian Church, I am keenly interested in the question of tradition versus modernism in architecture. Our sanctuary, opened in 1904, and our educational wing, built in 1916, were destroyed by fire and water on Dec. 29, 2011.
Before the fire, we had initiated a community survey to help us ascertain the greatest needs of those who live, work and play in Westport. After the fire, we were gratified by many community members who urged us to rebuild on the same site, “because we need you to continue the care and concern you have for this community.”
We chose BNIM to design the new buildings in part because of their prior involvement in the Westport community and their conviction that our rebuilt church could become a focal point for the community.
We decided to save the sanctuary’s exterior stone walls and stained glass windows “to preserve the historic look of the building” but to make the interior areas totally up to date and contemporary in design, meeting all Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for accessibility and meeting city codes, which the old buildings didn’t do.