Riverside Baptist Church


Riverside Baptist Church

Washington, DC


The new Riverside Baptist Church replaces the church’s third location in the city.  A longstanding institution of DC’s Southwest neighborhood the new church remains a centerpiece of a reimagined waterfront district.  Strategically located at a major gateway into the SW neighborhood it will provide a link to the redeveloping waterfront.  This location delivers a primary project objective to achieve a significant and expressive structure.


The overall building form clearly expresses the three elements of a place of worship; a visible entrance, its identity as a church and clarity in the presence of a worship space.  The transparent corner at 7th Street and Maine Avenue visually connects to The Wharf development.  The bell tower, a clear and common reference to a Christian church, anchors the corner and is topped by another symbol and identity reference, a cross.  The worship space is represented by a wall of glass formed to represent water – a reference to one of the most fundamental ideologies of the Baptist faith.  The wave inspired roof form is an expression of the significance of water in the Baptist tradition while simultaneously rooting the church to its neighborhood along the waterfront. The building form is deliberately and distinctly different from the architectural expression of larger buildings along Maine Avenue.


Another powerful portion of the new church exterior is the reuse of materials from the former building.  These materials, random ashlar field stone and stained glass, not only help in creating identity but also strongly connect the new church with its membership and its 160-year history as a part of SW DC.


The building is connected to a larger mixed-use structure all sited on the lot of the 1968 church property.  Riverside has captured a new beginning for itself, rooted in its neighborhood, while leveraging assets to realize a path toward many more decades of service to the community.