The result of an open architectural competition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Korean Church of Boston, the Children's Chapel and Community Center not only provides space for the next generation of parishioners but also acts as an entry point for the rest of the community. Instead of creating a building distinct from the 1950s-era brick church, Brian Healy Architects decided to weave old and new together, intersecting the long and narrow contemporary structure with the existing church. Juror Thomas Phifer found this strategy compelling: “I think the thing that you would think about doing in the beginning [of a project like this] is completely divorcing the addition—a modest addition away from a very traditional church. Here, they weave the buildings together and let the architectures come together. From a certain perspective, that was really the brave thing to do.” The new building features CMU and steel-frame construction, and it is clad in glass, zinc, and cementitious panels, creating a textured surface that relates to the surrounding brick but does not sacrifice the new structure's simple modernity.

The community center boasts a sunken courtyard, a clever solution to a potentially difficult site. When the original church was constructed, land was built up into a plinth as a solution to the 9-foot differential between the flanking streets. The plinth will be excavated to create a courtyard and throughway across the church campus, with the added benefit of creating a welcoming façade as opposed to a forbidding retaining wall.

The Children's Chapel is a study in happy contrasts. Countering the dark exterior, the inside of the terraced main space is clad in wood panels to create a warm environment. A series of narrow skylights and an angled ceiling plane create a dynamic pattern of light in the space, which changes with the time of day and the weather. Juror Karen Van Lengen noted, “[What I like about] this space is the way that the light comes in from above and the sides, and it becomes this very animated space for children.”

Brian Healy
Brian Healy

Project: Children's Chapel and Community Center Location: Boston
Architect: Brian Healy Architects, Boston—Brian Healy (principal, above); Paxton Sheldahl, Tom Rourke, Gerry Gutierrez, John McDonald, Steve Mayer, Matt Pierce, Chris Muskoft, Bohseung Kung, Tala Klinck, Heike Baraungardt (design team)
Year Founded: 1986 Number of Employees: 8
Engineers: Richmond So Engineers (structural); Allied Engineers (M/E/P); BSC Group (civil) Consultants: LAM Partners (lighting) Client: Korean Church of Boston
Cost: withheld Size: 8,200 square feet