“The conversation between old and new was the design approach,” Skolnick said. “When we encountered the building, it had already been gutted completely. It was down to the bones, timbers exposed. It gave us the opportunity to be very careful about what we added back in. My approach was, anything that we added back in was going to be modern, so you’d wind up with this conversation between history and today.”
That conversation is almost audible as you explore The Church. Pine wood framing was left exposed from the topmost rafters down through the walls and into the lower level. Original wood was also repurposed within the building, showcasing pieces of the original church as artifacts. So, not only does the historical component add to the building’s character, but the decision to maintain much of the original stock also makes this project an example of how sustainable architecture comes to life today.
Immediately upon entering The Church, you find yourself in the heart of it—a massive open atrium with 10 banks of 20-foot-tall windows
stretching up two stories. Assumed to have been formerly comprised of religious stained glass, the windows had been boarded up for years. Now, given the new use of the space as a home for the arts, the windows offered an opportunity to reimagine stained glass in the modern era.
"We created something very unique with the windows,” Skolnick said. “We wanted a modern interpretation of stained glass, so Eric Fischl had this idea to paint portraits of artists who worked or lived in Sag Harbor over the years.”