Allen & Jeannette Early Center for Christian Education and Worship
Union Presbyterian Seminary,
THE ORIGINAL 1897 Spence Hall at Union Presbyterian Seminary’s Richmond campus was expanded in 1940 and 1970 and housed the campus library until 1997 when the library holdings were relocated to the then new William Smith Morton Library. In 2000, Glavé & Holmes Architecture (G&HA) was commissioned to rehabilitate the vacant Spence Hall building into a state-of-the-art facility for teaching and worship.
The G&HA design and plan left the exterior façade substantially unaltered, whereas the interior spaces feature a contemporary style with cantilevered floors and moveable walls to create maximum flexibility. The eight stories of the 1970s, self-supporting stacks were removed and the resulting awe-inspiring volume—now a 40ft x 40ft x 40ft worship and teaching space—is infused with daylight filtering through the existing windows.
The use of glass walls at the galleries and retention of original, decorative cast iron columns recreates the spatial experience of the historically significant 1897 building. A multi-media conference room and gallery of faculty offices are included within the original two-story library and reading room.
Other areas of the building are rehabilitated to provide state-of-the-art classrooms, offices, and building support facilities. Lecterns, a baptismal font, and altar table were custom designed for the project.