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First United Methodist Church

Seattle, Washington

Owner: First United Methodist Church

Square feet: 89,300

Date completed: 2009



The need for the Seattle First United Methodist Congregation to create a new home grew out of a difficult decision to leave their historic property. Faced with moving after nearly 100 years, the Building Advisory Board led a lively discussion on how best to meet the spiritual needs of the community, how to grow the congregation, and how to continue serving those in need. Bassetti Architects joined the discussion in 2003. After evaluating many sites, and considering alternatives for the building arrangement, the historic church was sold and the Church purchased the property at 2nd Avenue and Denny Way. The church began to move forward from vision to reality.

Two structures make up the campus – the main church building houses the administrative offices, classroom, Fellowship Hall, and Sanctuary and the Urban Outreach Building houses a community center for those in need, including sleeping, eating, education, and health facilities and parking on the upper floors. The church exterior is organized to represent the daily working building portions in brick and the spiritual areas in titanium, wood, and glass. The titanium-skinned sanctuary appears physically cradled and supported by the brick sections, as the spiritual soul of the congregation is sustained by its mission.

The striking exterior of the building is a beacon to both drivers and pedestrians. There are two ways to approach the church – one from the garage and the other from the main streets. Both paths are lined with plantings to provide a soft edge and to allow visitors a chance to reflect on nature’s beauty before arriving at the courtyard. The courtyard is an opportunity to pause and reflect before entering the church. Visible from the courtyard is a small garden and inspirational banners, as well as views into the narthex through the extensive glass windows.