Project DescriptionR.I.S.E. Demonstration Center is the adaptive reuse of the St. Elizabeths East Chapel to create an interim innovation hub and community gathering space. The original Chapel was located on the St. Elizabeths East Campus at the center of the District of Columbia’s Congress Heights neighborhood in Ward 8. Selected by the community, R.I.S.E. is an acronym for Relate (Rel8), Innovate (Innov8), Stimulate (Stimul8), and Elevate (Elev8).
The Chapel is a symbolic landmark for the local community because of its visual prominence from Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue. With sensitivity to this, the renovation preserves the historic essence of the building, while dramatically altering its function. A new west entry, exterior walkways, and public space transform the Chapel’s relationship to the community from a visual landmark isolated behind the campus perimeter fence, to a community space directly accessible from Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue. A new circulation spine bisects the ground floor, from east to west, and divides the original chapel into two large, flexible-use spaces. The ‘Digital Inclusion Center’ is a state-of-the-art computer lab offering education opportunities, with additional classrooms and conference spaces located on the lower level. The design incorporates simple geometric motifs and bold colors to enhance the full transformation of the Chapel into the R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center.