Richard Meier Church Sent Back to Drawing Board

The Pasadena Planning Commission has again rejected famed architect Richard Meier's plans for an Episcopal church in the city center. Commissioners believe the plan does not fit with Pasadena's historic character.
January 26, 2009, 12pm PST | Tim Halbur
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Meier's master plan for the church mapped out the addition of four buildings, measuring about 68,000 square feet, to the church's 2.8-acre site in Pasadena's historic district. The plan would leave the exterior of the church's cloister intact, while facilitating interior renovations of the parish hall and rectory. New development would be centered around a two-level, cylindrical-shaped assembly building for worship opening onto an expansive plaza. Other development would be rectilinear in form and include a two-story building with offices, conference rooms, and an outdoor cafe; a three-story daycare and youth center; and a six-story senior housing building. The plan also called for multiple outdoor courtyards and gardens. Few specific design details have been released, although materials were described during the public presentation including stone quarried from Bouquet Canyon to match the cloister's facade, a copper sunscreen, architectural concrete, and tubular steel railings.

In its action, the commission not only declined to approve the church's master plan as presented but reversed a previous decision-made on May 28, 2008-which had allowed the church to file a Mitigated Negative Declaration, which would have been far less cumbersome than filing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The action also came after the city's Design Commission, charged with making recommendations to the Planning Commission, had approved the project on October 13.

'It is difficult not to think that the planning commissioners came into the meeting already having made a decision against us,' said the church's rector, Ed Bacon[...]"

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Published on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 in The Architect's Newspaper
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