How does our original building and the addition reflect our Unitarian (and Universalist) values? In the early 1960s, River Roaders gathered their ideas together as a design guide. Key themes included unity, openness, simplicity, and the beauty of nature. Natural materials would combine with contemporary design to let nature in and provide an open and inviting space for all people to feel welcome. Plus, the architect had a special treat for worshippers. The irregular brick pattern on the wall behind the pulpit does not represent sloppy masonry work. Instead, these subtle irregularities in the brickwork and mortar created an intentionally modulated surface, inviting worshippers to watch the interplay of sunlight and brick across the surface, with shadows moving slowly across the wall as the worship service progressed.
When it came time to design the addition with its fellowship hall, River Roaders remained committed to retaining the same key elements that had shaped our original building. Our architects for the addition, MFTA Architecture, agreed. They wanted the addition to be aesthetically respectful of the original but also compelling enough to capture the imagination of the congregation. They accomplished this task beautifully by honoring the shape of the original building but reinterpreting it for the 21st century. For example, the glass leaf fossil wall that separates the fellowship hall from the hallway represents our awareness of nature, lets light in passively, but uses technology and design ideas that were not available in the 1960s. Energy-saving features in the insulation, lighting, and windows also make the addition environmentally friendly while allowing nature to surround us with views to our backyard grounds. Unity, openness, simplicity, and the beauty of nature permeate the original building and addition seamlessly.