FPC was designed by architect Hobart Upjohn of New York City, assisted by Harry Barton of Greensboro. It was inspired by the Cathedral of St. Cecile in Albi in southern France, which was begun in 1282. Its style, called Southern French Gothic (or Fortress Gothic), was unusual for its time, for it was built of brick rather than stone.
The book The Church Architecture of Protestanism notes "The catherdral at Albi with its strong buttress-like piers has inspired architect Hobart Upjohn to build one of the most interesting sanctuaries in America – The First Presbyterian Church of Greensboro, North Carolina. Bigness of scale, simplicity of detail and tremendous sincerity mark this church as really significant. The interior is deeply religious in feeling."
This building has a traditional form of a cross. The nave, the long narrow portion of the building from the back to the front, contains pews. The word nave comes from the Latin word meaning ship sailing toward heaven. The feeling of soaring — of awe and aspiration — is also given by 85-foot ceiling. The center aisle is 160 feet long; the nave, 54 feet wide; the transepts, 64. The sanctuary seats 1,560.