Architects – at least conscientious ones – have long wrestled with the problem of making overtly modern additions coexist harmoniously with more traditional structures.  Below is an example of an addition to a church building which incorporates details which I think were both clever and at least somewhat successful in their attempt to relate to the original structure.

The original portion, built in a vernacular interpretation of the Italian Renaissance Revival style, featured numerous stained glass windows – many of which were patterned with an amber field interspersed with blue diamonds.  When a large addition was added to the side and rear of the church mid-century, the architect picked up on this glass patterning and utilized it in a distinctly modern way – within the narrow sidelights flanking modern plate glass windows.  The beauty of this is that the stained glass would help the addition relate to the interior spaces of the main building as well as the exterior.

Unfortunately, there is an ironic twist in the last image below.


The imposing facade features bracketed eaves and a gabled bell tower.


Original windows provided inspiration for narrow sidelights adjacent to large plate glass windows in the mid-century modern addition.


Here you can see the 1960’s addition with its sawtooth roof which echoes the relatively shallow pitch of the original roof.


Note the stained glass sidelights… Clever, no?

So simple, so elegant… so perfect!


Detail of a sidelight.  Now, you ask, what’s the ironic twist?  Look below.


These windows line the wall directly above the mid-century addition.  They no longer have the stained glass that inspired the addition’s windows!  These windows appear to be 21st century replacements and are of clear glass, with beveled diamonds and a cartouche-like motif in the center of each sash.  While the diamonds still relate, the colored glass is no longer there to help the addition blend visually.  In further irony, the original stained glass still remains on the front and side where the addition is not visible.



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