ⓘ First Unitarian Church of Rochester, building. The First Unitarian Church of Rochester is a building that was designed by Louis Kahn and completed in 1962. It i ..

                                     

ⓘ First Unitarian Church of Rochester (building)

The First Unitarian Church of Rochester is a building that was designed by Louis Kahn and completed in 1962. It is located at 220 Winton Road South in Rochester, New York, U.S. The congregation it houses is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

The building was described as one of "the most significant works of religious architecture of the century" by Paul Goldberger, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning architectural critic. Its exterior is characterized by deeply folded brick walls created by a series of thin, two-story light hoods that shield windows from direct sunlight. The sanctuarys complex ceiling has light towers in each corner to bring in indirect natural light.

The story of the design process that Kahn followed at First Unitarian has been described as "almost classic in architectural history and theory". Kahn began by creating what he called a Form drawing to represent the essence of what he intended to build. He drew a square to represent the sanctuary, and around the square he drew concentric circles to indicate an ambulatory, a corridor, and the church school. In the center he placed a question mark to represent his understanding that, in his words, "the form realization of Unitarian activity was bound around that which is Question. Question eternal of why anything."

  • The First Unitarian Church of Rochester is used as a case study in Artists Work/Artists Voice: Louis I. Kahn, an educators guide developed by the Museum of Modern Art to introduce students to architecture.
  • The First Unitarian Church of Rochester was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 2, 2014.
  • Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer-Prize-winning architectural critic for The New York Times, described the First Unitarian Church of Rochester in 1982 as one of "the greatest religious structures of the century" along with Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France, by Le Corbusier; Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois, by Frank Lloyd Wright; and the Christian Science Church in Berkeley, California, by Bernard Maybeck.