In January 2006, Pilgrim Baptist Church, one of Chicago's great architectural treasures (and widely cited as the birthplace of gospel music), was ravaged by a fire that started during restoration work, destroying everything but the exterior walls. The building, originally constructed for a synagogue, was designed by Louis Sullivan and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In April, church leaders announced a unique multi-phase plan to rebuild the church, which Dennis Rodkin recently outlined in the August issue of Chicago Architect. In the first phase, which is set to begin this month, a flat roof will be added, but as architect Christopher Lee tells Rodkin, "We couldn't just put a [flat] roof on it and leave it like that until funding comes through." So a steel framework outlining the building's original pyramidal clerestory will be added above it, which Lee says is like a "metaphorical beacon." Dramatic lighting will be added to enhance the 'beacon' effect. In later phases, the clerestory frame will be clad, the flat roof will be removed, and much of Sullivan's detailing and ornamentation will be recreated. Phase 1 will cost about $3.5 million, and the entire reconstruction cost is estimated at $37 million.
· Pilgrim's Progress [Chicago Architect]
· Rebuild Pilgrim Baptist [Rebuild Pilgrim]