Volunteer Team Designs Addition to Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church

AOS Architects recently led a volunteer design project with the Community Design Collaborative (CDC) to assist in the conceptual design for the renovation of the Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church and the expansion of the Richard Allen Museum & Archive. Located at the corner of 6th and Lombard Streets, the Church sits on the oldest parcel of land continuously owned by African Americans in the United States and is listed as a National Historic Landmark. The site attracts visitors from around the world as it is home to the Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, Richard Allen Museum & Archive, and the tomb of Richard Allen.

The CDC helps connect nonprofit organizations in greater Philadelphia with design professionals to provide pro bono services. Through this organization, a team of volunteers worked together to propose a modern design that speaks to the on-going significance of the Church. In response to the Foundation’s need for a larger Museum and Archive, and to address the structural concerns of the existing administrative wing, the design team proposed a 3-story addition where the existing Sunday School Building stands. The new wing will house the administrative and educational spaces and provide an accessible entry into the building. The expanded museum and archive in the lower level will be in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment. Upgrades to the existing Sanctuary and Parish Hall include cooling, fire-protection and audio/video systems. The exterior of the new addition references the existing Church by using brick and limestone in a contemporary manner without detracting from the historic building.                

Along with AOS, the volunteer team included Keast & Hood Structural Engineers; Bruce Brooks & Associates MEP Engineers; Dianne Loftis, Arts Administration; Eisterhold Associates Inc., Exhibit Designers; KMK Technologies, Acoustical/AV Consultants; and International Consultants, Inc., Cost Estimators.