St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

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Schenectady, NY

Client: St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

Project Type: Exterior and Interior Restoration; Conditions Assessment; New Addition in a Historic Context

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church was built in 1947 with salvaged Potsdam stone from the nearby Schenectady Armory. The design of the existing church is reminiscent of a medieval English parish church. Today the church has a thriving congregation in need of a functional parish hall.

A parish hall addition, constructed in 1956 and expanded in 1977, was in poor condition, had extensive water damage, and lacked functionality. John G. Waite Associates, Architects was contracted to complete a master plan for the design of a new parish house set to take the place of the existing water damaged building. The new addition is a one-story L-shaped building proportioned to relate to the context of a Montgomery Ward neighborhood.

JGWA studied medieval English parish churches and designed the new structure to compliment this aesthetic using similar massing, window to wall relationships, and types of stonework and quoining. The new addition contains a nave extension, parish hall, kitchen, three new classrooms, a nursery school, a teen lounge, a meeting room and a library. Two sides of the new addition and one edge of the existing parish church shape a courtyard, creating a space for both reflection as well as recreation. The new parish hall is a double-story space with a wood truss ceiling, clerestory windows, and doors that open out to the courtyard. The nave extension is the connection between the existing church and the new addition. It is rich in design features with scissor trusses, wood doors that tie into the nave of the church, and an arch topped window.

The stone and slate chosen for the addition is reminiscent of the materials used on the existing church and furthers a cohesive aesthetic on the site. Through the use of quality materials, such as slate, stucco, stone quoining and a stone base, and energy efficient building strategies, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church addition is designed to last.