While restoring an old church and working to solve the functional need for accessibility, the design team recognized a larger opportunity to connect the building to its urban context. This was accomplished by creating a simple plaza between the church and the street edge while additionally providing a space for gathering before approaching the church.
The site is a sloped corner in downtown Birmingham. The resulting plaza is level, the vertical transition between the sloping sidewalks and the plaza clearly establish the church’s forecourt. A tree canopy, off the city grid, provides further definition to the plaza and needed shade to the congregants. At the building edge, the original limestone entry steps were removed and re-built westward, allowing a landing for the new ramp and a side stair. The flanking paths are concealed and unified by limestone walls that reestablish the building’s base and frame its entrance.
The architect’s simple interventions aggregate in a transitional space that provides a connection to the city, shelter from the street and ascension to the church.