Restored church building has a growing congregation – of bees

ZGF builds interesting hives on the roof of a fascinating building.

The Sanctuary is a historic church building in Seattle, formerly the First United Methodist Church, that has been turned into an entertainment venue. As congregations shrink, many churches are lost to demolition, particularly in growing cities like Seattle. This one is particularly interesting to the historic preservation community; it was the subject of a big fight that changed the rules for architectural preservation. According to the Sanctuary website,

The battle gained national attention because it pitted the public’s right to control zoning over a religious institution’s right to freely practice religion. In a 5-4 vote the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the congregation and allowed for the demolition of the building without city landmark protection.

But it didn’t get demolished; Daniels Real Estate bought it from the congregation and a new office and hotel tower designed by ZGF cantilevers over and looks down on the roof. Downstairs, the executive chef, food and beverage manager Gavin Stephenson is also a beekeeper, so ZGF designed four very architectural beehives to provide “a sustainable source of honey to infuse in The Sanctuary’s buzzworthy menu.” Being into bad puns, they call it An Urban Bee-con of Light.


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