When the chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary was destroyed by fire, VTS vowed to rebuild it. They also wanted to find a way to integrate part of the old chapel into the new design. On Saturday, VTS came to Council with a proposed design for the new structure and a number of site improvements. Council approved the project unanimously.
According to the Planning and Zoning staff report:
“The overall proposal includes site circulation improvements, both vehicular and pedestrian, the reallocation of parking spaces, the demolition of an existing garage, façade improvements to Packard-Laird Hall (the welcome center) and the construction of a new chapel. The new 20,811 sq. ft. chapel includes a small courtyard to the north, just south of the memorial garden created within the footprint of the historic Immanuel Chapel. The new chapel will have enhanced architectural elements on all four sides with emphasis given to both the northern frontage, facing the internal central grove/memorial garden and the southwestern façade, facing Seminary Road.
“Additionally there will be improvements to the southern façade of the welcome center with an addition of approximately 900 sq. ft., thereby creating a front facade to the building’s existing utilitarian rear entrance. Other improvements to the welcome center will include the removal of existing steps and a doorway on the western façade, replacing it with a Palladian style window, similar to the existing window on the eastern façade.
“Currently the Seminary Road vehicular entrance to the seminary’s campus is somewhat nondescript, with only a monument sign informing visitors of the seminary’s entry.
“Enhancements to this entrance will include: the installation of brick pillars and walls, as well as signage and pedestrian walkways leading into the site and onto a new motor court located between and framed by the chapel and the welcome center. The motor court will have a decorative brick border and informal seating areas, improving visibility to and from Seminary Road.
“Other site refinements will include the reallocation of parking, the creation of a continuous vehicular/pedestrian circulation through the site from Seminary Road to N. Quaker Lane, and the demolition of an older garage, creating a more open feeling to a primarily residential portion of the site and enhancing the visual connection from the Federal House to the Dean’s residence,” staff wrote.