4. First Unitarian Church Rochester

Photo by Ryan Caswell

The First Unitarian Church of Rochester is one of the largest of the Unitarian Universalist Association denomination. Organized in 1829, the church had attracted figures like Susan B. Anthony, and a follow-up to the Seneca Falls Convention, the Rochester Women’s Rights Convention, was organized at the church. Since the mid-to-late 1800s, church leaders had been active in leading national campaigns for women’s suffrage, later providing office space for Planned Parenthood. The current building was designed by Louis Kahn and completed in 1962.

Kahn was commissioned to design the First Unitarian Church building after two major problems arose: the existing building had several structural deficiencies, and a downtown shopping mall required the space occupied by the building. Kahn used a question mark as the basic structure for the church. The sanctuary features four light towers that are situated at each corner. The church includes multiple rooms with an unfinished aesthetic. Classrooms are oriented around the perimeter of the building, and the façade has extruded window wells that filter light within the classrooms.