In 2010, Chesapeake Systems set out to move their tech company headquarters into the Mt.Vernon United Methodist Church of Hampden. The building had been struck by lightning and extensively damaged by fire in 2008, sitting vacant and unconditioned for 2 years after. Although the roof was quickly replaced, underneath it pigeons roamed free, and piles of burned rubble remained. By all accounts, the building was a mess.
Following a careful renovation, the building is now a centerpiece of the Hampden neighborhood. Its unique, open space welcomes special events and technology classes, giving the company more exposure to the public and a greater connection to the community.
The conversion included many challenges. Not only did the 100-something-year-old building need to address the functional requirements of a modern office – such as security and sound privacy – it also needed to meet current codes. It was also important to the design team to introduce the new amenities without breaking up the open space or obscuring the historic features that made the original structure great.
The final design tucked a new stair, accessible restroom, and offices into the church’s side aisles, leaving the original heavy timber construction exposed and the high-volume space intact. The church’s unique wooden overhead doors were retained, allowing the building to be left open or sub-divided into separate tenant spaces. Circulation was carefully considered to provide easy public access to the main sales floor, classroom and tenant spaces, while maintaining security for client equipment.