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August 10, 2008 I.M. Pei

Debate Over Third Church of Christ Continues with Lawsuit

The saga over the Third Church of Christ, Scientist, continues. Members of the church at 16th and I streets, NW–who want to tear the building down and replace it with a new structure–have sued D.C. for naming the Brutalist structure a historic landmark. The church members are arguing that the designation, which came in December and means that any structural changes to building have to go through the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board, is infringing on their First Amendment rites to freely practice their religion. A very interesting legal and moral conflict between the desires of the members of the church to change their own building, which they do not like, and those seeking to preserve modernist landmarks.

Here’s a nice Flickr set of images of the 1971 church, which was designed by I.M. Pei colleague Araldo Cossutta.