In time for its 70th anniversary, Mt. Olive Lutheran Church announced it has selected Gwynne Pugh Urban Studio, Inc. to complete a Master Plan and a Space Needs Program for a pending remodel at 1343 Ocean Park Blvd.
The church, which serves as a spiritual center while also hosting many community services and events, including yoga classes, adult education, preschool services, and after school programs, moves forward with the intention of adding versatility to its campus and becoming more integrated into the community.
The process will require a number of meetings with the church’s volunteer teams and the larger Santa Monica community, and will result in a comprehensive and sustainable Master Plan for the 1.5-acre site as it moves forward into the future.
Gwynne Pugh, a leading name in architecture who has worked on many projects in Santa Monica from Bergamot Station to Santa Monica College and served on the Planning Commission for seven years, founded Urban Studio in 2010.
Pugh said Urban Studio was focused on how architecture can transform community.
“I think one of the reasons we were selected for this project is our orientation toward community, and how the built environment can affect that, complement that, or even detract from that,” Pugh said.
Determining what that means for Mt. Olive and the surrounding Sunset Park neighborhood will take place as part of a six-month process, resulting in the Master Plan. The studio is currently in an information-gathering phase, where they are collecting concerns and ideas from the church and community for the eventual Master Plan.
“What’s interesting about Mt. Olive is that if you look at the neighborhood, it is relatively speaking underserved except for Santa Monica College and the schools,” Pugh said. “There is relatively little park area, there’s relatively little community space, and there’s relatively little other kinds of community facilities within about a one mile radius.
“And so a part of the process is to look at what the mission of Mt. Olive is, and one of the possibilities is that its mission be revised, in particular with regards to its orientation to the community. And also, the preschool of course has become a very important part of what they do.”
One of the ways they have considered opening to the community is through study areas for SMC students, and the possibility of making some of their currently underutilized parking lot available for SMC students in the daytime.
“Where they stand at the moment is that some of the structures are old and tired and are very difficult to maintain because of their age,” Pugh said. “There are some organizational issues with regards to how these various buildings and their uses relate and in some ways just not a good match for where (the church) finds themselves at the moment.
“And especially as their mission as a church has adjusted to time, to remain relevant and pertinent, they really need to look at how their parish facilities are being used and how they remain relevant within the community.”