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Houses of God

Wydawnictwo: Images Publishing
Autor: Michael J. Crosbie
Wysyłamy w ciągu 3-5 dni
192,00 zł
Oprawa: twarda, Format:  cm, Stron: 192, 2007 r., tekst: angielski

If this is architecture for the gods, the gods must be groaning. Not to say that this big, handsome paperback look at more than 40 recent faith-centered architectural projects around the U.S.--complete with full-color photographs, plans, and excellent annotations--doesn't make it amply and diversely clear that there has been a boom in America in recent years in the building of churches, synagogues, mosques, and nondenominational chapels. And certainly not to say that architects aren't finding all sorts of clever ways to update religious iconography for modern times, or combine traditional and contemporary architectural styles under one roof--be it deeply pitched, in the style of the classic country church (like the new St. James Episcopal Church in Fairhope, AL, whose heart-redwood boards, painted bone-white, evoke the region's charming Gulf Coast carpenter-Gothic style), or domed (like Skidmore Owings & Merrill's high-profile Islamic Cultural Center, the first mosque for New York City's sizable Muslim population, skewed on its site to face Mecca, as required by Muslim law, and complete with its own dramatic, postmodern minaret of square, terra-cotta-colored panels).

It's just that many of these sacred edifices aim so hard for contemporaneity or flexibility of use that they look like anything but houses of worship. Here, we have a low-slung, multivolume light brick Presbyterian church in Baltimore that looks like an Eisenhower-era public high school; there, the Metropolitan Community Church in Washington, D.C., whose enormous rainbow flag is the only thing that tips you off that this is the first American church (and not a huge gymnasium or sports arena) to have been built by a gay congregation. Certainly, no one could be serious about worship in the Gethsemane Episcopal Cathedral, in Fargo, ND, which resembles a hideous hybrid of a whitewashed grain silo and one of those garish "luxury homes"--complete with a multite of LEGO-like gables and picture windows--that you see cropping up on (sadly) tree-shorn lots in suburban subdivisions across America. Strip the interiors of most of these projects of the telltale cross, Magen David, or what have you, and the overwhelming effect seems to be that of a spanking new aitorium--all outfitted in blond wood and gray slate--appropriate for a multite of uses, but special to none. With their skyward-reaching spires and far-flying buttresses, onion-shaped domes and slender towers--even (in the case of early Protestant America) their handsome, strong-limbed austerity--houses of worship once were stunning expressions of human artistry and effort in the name of the divine. It's no wonder, then, that amidst the (at best) "tasteful" palette of present-day ordinariness that's showcased here the most spiritual of entries seem to be the quirkiest or most outrageous. To wit, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Temple in Independence, MO, with its psychedelic, illuminated spire that spirals up into the heavens like a Dairy Queen soft-serve cone; a tiny grotto-like chapel that overlooks the Pacific Ocean in Sea Ranch, CA, its rustic, weirdly curved stone flanks and shingled-wood roof rising from the land like Corbu's cathedral at Ronchamps, France (had it been scaled and styled for a Hobbit); and the San Juan Bautista Mission, which was built on a shoestring bget by a group of parishioners, professionals, and residents of the mostly poor Latin American neighborhood in Miami in which it sits like a little jewel from old Havana. Inside, the cherubim that are depicted on a lovely ceiling fresco easily could be all of the many-hued children of 21st-century Miami, so matter-of-factly does the image assume, and attain, contemporaneity. It's one of the few instances in this nonetheless substantive, stylish, and engaging book in which the creativity, expressiveness, and sense of wonderment that the gods gave us in the first place haven't been sacrificed to the blandly mortal demands of modernity.

 --Timothy Murphy --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.  Advocates of aesthetic restraint in the service of God will find much to attack in this compendium of 43 highly adorned 20th-century North American houses of worship. Crosbie (architecture, Roger Williams Univ.) exercises able aesthetic and ecumenical jgment in his sensitive presentation of recent neo-baroque religious structures, which range from well-known national edifices to small abbeys. Each project and congregation is briefly introduced, followed by pages of photographs (exterior, interior, and ornamental details), site and floor plans, and elevations. Texts are descriptive and strive to capture how the architecture imparts and reinforces spiritual values and aspirations. Construction and renovation dates are often lacking, and some photos suffer from too much contrast. Nevertheless, this is an effective overview of affluent and awe-inspiring contemporary religious architecture. Most suitable for architecture collections but also for large public libraries.