Our UUC Home

UUC Renovation and Expansion Project

The Physical Space and Implementation Team (PSIT) has been excited to share with you the progress on our renovations and expansion! Meet team members in Our Team, below.


Loft Organ Will Not Return

At the start of our building project, our intention was to dismantle, store and then re-install our chapel organ, with minor improvements, at a cost of about $150,000. For this, we secured a generous donor, who sadly has recently died.

When the organ was dismantled for storage, the organ company discovered that it had been very poorly built, requiring the breakage of much of the framing in order to remove it from the loft. With the poor condition and new damage, the estimated cost to replace the organ now nearly doubled. In addition, we realized, too that it would be nearly impossible to find an organist with sufficient skill to play a substandard instrument in a half-time position.

Based on these factors, Director of Music Karen Thomas and Rev. Jon Luopa decided not to return the existing organ to our new chapel. One of our grand pianos will now be positioned in the loft. We are exploring the possibility of purchasing a portable organ, estimated at around $45K, to be stored in the loft and used for special music occasions (not weekly services).

For many, it is sad to lose our organ, but there are two positive outcomes—the congregation will have a wonderful pianist in Dwight Beckmeyer, and there will be room in the loft for more voices!

Please reach out to Jon or Karen if you have ideas about the portable organ.

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Features for Equal Access and Participation

The vision for our church renovation from the beginning included a welcoming home that’s accessible to each person coming through our doors. Now we have:

  • No-curb, accessible parking spaces in the UUC lot
  • An elevator that services 3 levels—including the choir loft
  • A ramp providing access to the chancel
  • Wider aisles and more room between rows of chairs
  • Chairs with arms on the aisles for those needing a little help sitting and standing
  • Hearing loop technology
  • Screens at entrances with room maps, event information and news
  • The ability to broadcast Chapel audio to a few select spaces
  • Room signage with braille
  • An ADA restroom on each level, four changing tables and a lactation room
  • A ramp from the sidewalk to both Memorial Garden and north entrance

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21st Century Kitchen Awash in Natural Light

Our new kitchen has been relocated from the west side of Nathan Johnson Hall to the east side. This provides us with two advantages. 


It creates a larger mingling area in our fellowship hall and incorporates a large bank of east-facing windows that flood the kitchen with natural light. The wall between the kitchen and NJ Hall features a pass-through counter with large pocket doors that can be left open for serving and providing a view of the mountain or closed for noise-suppression. Inside the kitchen, this wall also provides a dedicated station for the Coffee Crew.  Our new coffee makers are plumbed to the water supply and drip directly into air pots that can be carried to the serving area.  An undercounter refrigerator stores coffee supplies and a nearby cart makes moving the supplies in and out of the social hall easy.  The kitchen has a center island with storage and undercounter freezer and icemaker.  Those using the kitchen will appreciate …

our new commercial dishwasher with countertop racks that slide in and out, a 6-burner gas cooktop, a convection oven and a full-sized refrigerator.  The kitchen is stocked with plates and bowls for 100, and plenty of coffee cups for Sunday morning. 

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New, Soaring Windows Installed in Chapel

This week, new glass windows along the chapel’s west wall were installed. The new windows, each weighing 500 pounds, were transported one by one from the parking lot staging area to the chapel. Each window was moved inside the chapel, rotated upright and then set in place—all with special devices designed for these tasks.


We are now up to code, with tempered glass for safety. The glass is single pane. In our research on double pane, we learned the cost was exorbitant and manufacturing limits would require two tall vertical windows in each opening, a departure from the original Kirk design of a single span of glass in each opening. To satisfy energy requirements not met by the single-pane glass, the chapel now has new insulation in adjacent walls and ceiling.

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Now You See Them … Now You See Them Again!

Do you remember the wood-and-glass screens just outside Nathan Johnson Hall? One was near the front door, the other in “newcomers corner.” They are incorporated in the new building as screens for the upstairs restroom and in the downstairs hallway.

All-Gender Restrooms and Other Features

Gender-neutral. Unisex. Gender-inclusive. All-gender. Whatever we call it, UUC’s new home has one restroom for all genders on each floor, rather than separate male- and female-designated restrooms. You’ll find the upper-level restroom just south of Nathan Johnson Hall, near the atrium, stairs and Religious Education (RE) suite. The first thing you’ll see is a privacy screen, behind which is a wide entry rather than a traditional door. Inside, there are 8 stalls that are completely private with floor-to-ceiling framed walls and wood doors. The stalls are situated around a central sink bar. (Inside the RE suite is a restroom with a child-height sink and toilet, as well as a changing table.)

          Upper-level restroom

Downstairs, the restroom is similarly designed, with 4 fully private stalls. Both floors have an adjacent ADA/family restroom with sink and changing table. Not only do we have all-gender restrooms in our newly remodeled church home, we have added resources of a lactation room, also known as a mother’s room, and a single-use shower room.

          Lower-level restroom

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Staff Tour: “Ooh, Ahh, Wow”

UUC staff members visited the new UUC this past Thursday (8/22). “The design through the whole building reflects the UU vision of ministry,” said Janine Larsen. “The permeability of the indoor and outdoor spaces—all that glass not only lets in light, it lets in the whole community. We are looking out and inviting in. You can just tell it was designed by people—not as an institution but as a community.”

Nick and Melody at building site
          Melody and Nick, checking off construction details

Throughout the tour, staff exclaimed about the natural lighting, intergenerational connection and open design. “The admin layout is more open, more flexible and a more workable size,” commented Nick Barnard. Looking from the admin wing toward the classrooms, Rev. Beth Chronister said, “This large downstairs hall—what a difference from before! It makes the church feel like one continuous building.”

Melody Moberg and Aria Curtis (our new Elementary Program Coordinator!) were delighted with the RE classrooms. Aria was pleased with her first visit to the infants/toddler room, with its clever split space and large windows: “Oh great, this is perfect!” The classrooms for older kids provide plenty of room for multiple activities. “So spacious! This is going to be great,” said Melody. “I’m really happy.”

Janine added, “The most magnificent space, I think, is the children’s suite upstairs. To have this much sunlight, that makes a statement that we value these children. It’s a feeling that we’re helping them grow. It is such a nurturing place with all that sun coming in.”

          Staff gathered on chancel steps

Loft Mahogany Gets New Life

We have reclaimed mahogany from the chancel and loft stairs to build new furniture pieces for our refreshed church home. PSIT commissioned woodworker Jonathan Cohen, of Jonathan Cohen Fine Woodworking, to design and create a chalice table, two flower stands and a table for each entrance space. Mr. Cohen has been assisted by apprentice and UUC member Eric Valpey. Jonathan and Eric have created the beautiful pieces almost solely by hand. We think you will agree with Jonathan’s statement, “Furniture shaped by hand plane is so much prettier than furniture sanded!”



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Photos from the Building Site

From November 2019

Above: Nathan Johnson Hall, empty and ready for socializing

Above: Chapel, with chancel complete and woodwork refreshed. Ready for furniture!!

Above: entry courtyard from parking lot

From September 11, 2019


Risers in choir loft

Below deck, multiple layers to accommodate systems, the original tongue & groove flooring, and added seals and layers to bring loft surface to height of new mezzanine entry


Window sills, each custom built with 7 individually fitted pieces of wood

Dual duty: below loft, a new place for candles, and an elegant HVAC intake vent

Chaos? No, just a work in progress!

Admin suite:

Conference room for admin and board committees

Every part carefully tracked by BNBuilders…

Main stairs:

New white powder coating, and oak treads awaiting installation

“The Brain” (center of 21st century wiring and technology):

If you like systems and technology, these are for you!

Elevator hydraulics

Parking lot grading and curbs


Kitchen and library


Sliding pass-through into kitchen and … windows in kitchen!


Note: More Sept 11 photos will be uploaded ASAP (9/23)


From August 7, 2019

Chapel Progress – Scaffolding is gone. In highest areas, paint, lighting, sprinkler systems are DONE! Also: asbestos removed, insulation installed, earthquake retrofitted. 



New loft entrance moves stairs out of chapel, increasing floor space.



 Southwest entry – Stairs from sidewalk to new entry plaza off parking lot


Exterior Screens
 – Architectural detail echoing original Paul Hayden Kirk design


– Kitchenette and work counter in new church office

A peek at the cabinet on the west wall of Nathan Johnson

Lower-level classrooms – Carpets and ceilings are in!

Kid-size bathroom


Finish carpentry … skylight … spacious Coming of Age room

Above: BNB has completed the finish carpentry around interior windows.  You are looking north into Knatvold from the atrium.

Skylight over bank of sinks in upper level restroom

Water infiltration
– Underneath the parking lot, this huge catch basin and infiltration system will control the rate of discharge of runoff into city sewer


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Web Cam

Image from Web cam

To access the live-stream camera shown in screen shot above, follow these steps, being mindful of the virtue of patience where indicated

  1. Go to our camera’s web page.
  2. If you do not see a “LIVE” button, click the horizontal stripes in upper left (both are circled in image above). Click once and wait for LIVE button to appear.
  3. Click the LIVE button—and now wait. If the web cam gods smile, a live video feed will open. If it does not, try the process again. If still no image, try at another hour.

Our Team

Meet the UUC volunteers, staff, architects, contractors and other professionals who are working together on your behalf.

UUC Physical Space Implementation Team (PSIT)

Members, left to right: Rev. Jon M. Luopa; PSIT chair, Lee Anne Warner; Stacy Carlson; Jan Hood; Carolyn Rasch; Byron Krystad, UUC Director of Operations

Convened in 2014 to guide the process of achieving a new home for UUC. We welcome you to connect with us, either in person or using our form to Share Your Thoughts.

UUC Member Architects Advisory Team

Bernard Jalbert, Architect; Emily McNichols, AIA LEED AP Homes; Eric Denny, AIA

Tom Schmidt, Emily Knudsen Leland, Corey Martin, Amelie Reynaud, Jennie Fowler, Jonah Cohen, Andrew Schilling, Hao Zhou

UUC selected Hacker, based in Portland, OR, as our project architects in April 2015. This firm of 50+ is “united by a desire to create spaces that enrich the world—spaces that make us feel more connected to the landscape, each other and ourselves.” Learn more at Hacker.

Alex Garcia, Jason Steinbacher, Conrad Nygren, Ben Roe

UUC selected BNBuilders in April 2017 as our general contractor. Often called “BNB” for short, the company takes an integrated approach and is committed to customer service. BNB has worked with Hacker on previous projects. Learn more at BNBuilders.

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Share Your Thoughts

Let us know what you think! Our project success is dependent on open and accessible communication, and this is the top priority for the Physical Space Implementation Team (PSIT).

Submit your questions, comments and ideas

We respond to all inquiries—just be sure to include your name! We invite you to review past questions and answers –
Construction Development Phase Q&A

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Project Vision and History

Project Vision Statement

We envision a physical space that is respectful of the land, full of natural light and fresh air. Our space will be environmentally responsible and sustainable with low maintenance buildings and grounds. Our physical space must be flexible and expandable, and accessible to all who come. We want to be respectful neighbors to those around us. We see a simple design that peacefully reflects our legacy and the Northwest and is compatible with the existing sanctuary.

How We Got Here
Summary of Our Progress to Date
Archived Project Documents

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