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January 13, 2014

Quaker Meeting House Wins AIA Honor Award

The Quaker Meeting House at Sidwell Friends School transforms an aging gymnasium into a carefully tuned space for worship and contemplation. More images are available here.
© Michael Moran/OTTO

We are pleased to announce that the Quaker Meeting House and Arts Center at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, has won an Institute Honor Award for 2014 from the American Institute of Architects. The 26 winning projects were selected from more than 500 submissions. 

Project description from the AIA press release

With a minimum of means, this project transforms a non-descript 1950s gymnasium into a Quaker Meeting House and Arts Center serving the entire middle and upper school community at Sidwell Friends School. The building program includes a worship space, visual art and music rooms, and exhibition areas. The essence of Quaker Meeting, and thus the Meeting House itself, is silence and light. Architecturally this is achieved by filtering light and sound through architecture, landscape, structure, and systems arranged in successive concentric layers around a central source of illumination, both literal and spiritual.

Jury comments

A beautiful project that is very well detailed and imagined. A remarkable transformation. 
 
The obsolete building is thankfully lost in the new one; the new one is open, bright, and engaging. 
 
The exterior is masterfully handled with subtle gestures that give it interest and shape. The architect manages to create a landmark building on the site while simultaneously transforming the interior spaces into an effective worship space. 
 
Fascinating use of light and molding of space. Beautiful reinterpretation with a sensitive vernacular touch. 
 
Great sustainability strategies and results.