Most P/A Award—winning projects get published once they are built, with one noteworthy exception: Victor A. Lundy's First Unitarian Church in Westport, Conn. Honored in 1960 by a stellar jury, including such luminaries as Louis Kahn and Ralph Rapson, the church was never covered in an architecture magazine in its completed state—until now. Its parabolic roof spreads out over two, two-story, fieldstone-and-glass-clad classroom wings that flank a central entrance into the sanctuary. There, the two halves of the roof?inspired in their form by praying hands—built of 2x4s spiked together and supported by curved glulam beams, sweep up to a ridgeline skylight, with clear glass sidewalls and end walls providing a view of the surrounding woods. The resulting space is stunning. Under the bowed undersides of the wood roof, you feel like you are sitting beneath two boat hulls gliding over glass walls. That glazing also gives the roof a nearly weightless quality, as if it were a tent, suspended from the surrounding trees. The Westport church looks ahead to better-known projects: disappearing into the woods like E. Fay Jones' 1980 Thorncrown Chapel, or recalling the more literal wooden tent that Lundy designed for the interior of his 1964 Unitarian Meeting House in Hartford, Conn. But his Westport design also prefigures the compound curvatures, ambiguous edges, and seemingly infinite spaces of the waveform architecture of our own era. Maybe we had to wait 49 years to see the completed building published so that we could fully appreciate its subtlety and complexity.

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    Credit: George Cserna

    Before
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The 1960 awards program had an all-star jury: William Caudill, Louis Kahn, Ralph Rapson, José Luis Sert, and Lyndon Welch.

    Credit: George Cserna

    After The 1960 awards program had an all-star jury: William Caudill, Louis Kahn, Ralph Rapson, José Luis Sert, and Lyndon Welch.