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Architecture And The Lord


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I had a conversation today about school buildings. We have a school building in our Town that actually started out its life as a 1st through 12th grade school over a century ago, it was later tripled in size some eighty years ago to become in its day a state of the art high school. It has since seen use as an elementary school and now its fate uncertain only houses the administration. One of my sons went to elementary school there before moving on to more modern buildings for middle and high school. It was his favourite school. It has personality and character and although I never attended there I have fought to preserve it. I do so because I did not do the same for my own which is now gone. We have replaced these buildings with sanitized, sterile, functional buildings. Although they are beautiful new shiny buildings, I notice that the kids as they grow up and leave do not develop the same sentimental attachment to them. The spirits do not resonate in such buildings. It has caused me to pause and think of our Chapel and all the Chapels I have attended. I realise that we do not spend as much time in them as the old schools. But in thinking about it, I don't think we develop and I don't think our children develop a sentimental attachment to these new cookie cutter Chapels either. I was wondering if any of the older timers on here understand what I am saying, shouldn't we be developing a love and spiritual connection with these buildings?

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There was a period where considerable sums of money were expended to develop beautiful structures for weekly worship. Due to the growth of the Church and a desire to provide structures that were functional the Church slowly began to develop standard architecture. We are now seeing a similar process in our temples as they become smaller to accommodate the objective of offering temple work closer to all Church members. Though I would enjoy seeing a more beautiful architecture and more elegant design, I understand the frugal nature of the Church. I remember seeing pictures from a photographer that went and captured the beauty of the tabernacles of the Church. It is sad that we don't do that any more. As an aside, here in the Middle East Catholic Churches are very utilitarian and functional without any of the beauty that we see in cathedrals in so many other parts of the world. This is one of those areas that you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. If we began to build large, beautiful temples and wonderful tabernacles and stake centers today, we would have a host of members and critics accuse the Church of wasting tithing monies on buildings rather than feeding the poor or any other humanitarian effort. Then there are some others, myself included, that would really appreciate seeing more unique architecture that elevated that minds, hearts, and spirits of humanity.

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There was a period where considerable sums of money were expended to develop beautiful structures for weekly worship. Due to the growth of the Church and a desire to provide structures that were functional the Church slowly began to develop standard architecture. We are now seeing a similar process in our temples as they become smaller to accommodate the objective of offering temple work closer to all Church members. Though I would enjoy seeing a more beautiful architecture and more elegant design, I understand the frugal nature of the Church. I remember seeing pictures from a photographer that went and captured the beauty of the tabernacles of the Church. It is sad that we don't do that any more. As an aside, here in the Middle East Catholic Churches are very utilitarian and functional without any of the beauty that we see in cathedrals in so many other parts of the world. This is one of those areas that you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. If we began to build large, beautiful temples and wonderful tabernacles and stake centers today, we would have a host of members and critics accuse the Church of wasting tithing monies on buildings rather than feeding the poor or any other humanitarian effort. Then there are some others, myself included, that would really appreciate seeing more unique architecture that elevated that minds, hearts, and spirits of humanity.

Am not sure I articulated this very well. I don't think that a building has to be large, or expensive, to have personality. Both the High School that I attended, and the one referenced in the post were built or expanded by the WPA during the Depression. There is something about a change in the architecture itself which renders the buildings lifeless. Its kind of like these expensive McMansions that are built in the curvilinear streeted subdivisions which are all different, but somehow all seem to be the same -- and they are lifeless commodities. In our case, since our signage tends to be modest and easily overlooked we advertise our buildings by a form or "branding" not quite as obvious as the Golden Arches, but you can normally pick out an LDS Chapel. Don't get me wrong, they are quality, nice, attractive, functional buildings -- but the buildings are somehow lifeless, the only thing that draws you are the people attending, and when you walk into one years later there is no particular resonance.

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Am not sure I articulated this very well. I don't think that a building has to be large, or expensive, to have personality. Both the High School that I attended, and the one referenced in the post were built or expanded by the WPA during the Depression. There is something about a change in the architecture itself which renders the buildings lifeless. Its kind of like these expensive McMansions that are built in the curvilinear streeted subdivisions which are all different, but somehow all seem to be the same -- and they are lifeless commodities. In our case, since our signage tends to be modest and easily overlooked we advertise our buildings by a form or "branding" not quite as obvious as the Golden Arches, but you can normally pick out an LDS Chapel. Don't get me wrong, they are quality, nice, attractive, functional buildings -- but the buildings are somehow lifeless, the only thing that draws you are the people attending, and when you walk into one years later there is no particular resonance.

I'd love more thought out buildings. Concrete walls are yucky. Also a clean building would be nice. I walk with a disabled woman in the church sometimes, round and round we go. I've been able to observe a lot in our walks. Like broken items. For instance the glass in the box that holds the fire extinguisher is missing in two spots. Or the finger prints or gross walls and doors. I've cleaned the church several times but what the building needs is a deeper clean. But agree that we could do better. Even make them more inviting. I believe with the plan now to have missionaries give tours, I'll bet the church buildings might change and may even look like the older churches in some of our childhoods! Anyone remember quiet rooms? With glass enclosures and speakers?
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I'd love more thought out buildings. Concrete walls are yucky. Also a clean building would be nice. I walk with a disabled woman in the church sometimes, round and round we go. I've been able to observe a lot in our walks. Like broken items. For instance the glass in the box that holds the fire extinguisher is missing in two spots. Or the finger prints or gross walls and doors. I've cleaned the church several times but what the building needs is a deeper clean. But agree that we could do better. Even make them more inviting. I believe with the plan now to have missionaries give tours, I'll bet the church buildings might change and may even look like the older churches in some of our childhoods! Anyone remember quiet rooms? With glass enclosures and speakers?

There is a lecture series on livable cities, which made some insightful comments about the fact that some of the spatial separations of buildings from the street have a pyschological impact on humans that is being ignored by city planners, for example people actually prefer residential districts and business districts where the buildings are right up close to the sidewalk, etc. and that we are designing our cities for cars not persons. I suspect something similar is in play here. I am not sure about the cross-over between the old schools and Churches. Our chapel is pretty clean, and we do not have concrete block walls, I don't think most of the newer ones do. As far as the quality is concerned, I think our chapels are first rate. This is an aesthetic issue that I am obviously not doing a good job of articulating. Have you ever gone into an old style drug store with the wooden shelving and counters and a soda fountain area? Compare that to the sparkling clean, sanitary Rite Aid -- the feel is completely different.

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I went to elementary school in a massive three story brick building with wood floors and windows which opened fully three stories up. It had lots of character. No one thought then about fire hazards and handicap accessability. I remember sitting on the third floor window ledge. We also had tricky-bars with dirt under them and cinder playgrounds. Oh , how did we all survive!

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I went to elementary school in a massive three story brick building with wood floors and windows which opened fully three stories up. It had lots of character. No one thought then about fire hazards and handicap accessability. I remember sitting on the third floor window ledge. We also had tricky-bars with dirt under them and cinder playgrounds. Oh , how did we all survive!

Yeah, the biggest impediment to restoring the old school out here I the Fire Safety Department. As we stood in the century old school he explained why we had to box in the grand stair cases because the school could go up at anytime. Somehow the irony of what he was saying was lost on him. But surely we must have an inspired person somewhere in our vast Church bureaucracy who could come up with an affordable way to design our buildings so that when a child who goes to a Chapel for most of his or her youth would have memories and feelings come swarming back to them when they entered the building as an adult. A sense of coming home.

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A sense of coming home.
I get that sense in almost every ward or branch I've been in, including one that met in an old convent in Moscow....well, maybe not at BYU, a purely singles branch didn't have quite the same feeling as one with kids and elderly.

I have always found it is the people that give the sense of belonging, not the building. I think the best, most attractive and 'welcoming' church building I attended was the ward I felt the least at home in.

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I get that sense in almost every ward or branch I've been in, including one that met in an old convent in Moscow....well, maybe not at BYU, a purely singles branch didn't have quite the same feeling as one with kids and elderly.

I have always found it is the people that give the sense of belonging, not the building. I think the best, most attractive and 'welcoming' church building I attended was the ward I felt the least at home in.

It's the ability of the building to capture memories, such that when you walk into it, without anyone else being there it gives off a special remembrance.

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We developed sentimental attachment because in those days we (including children to adults) built the things, and paid for them. Now the best we get is cleaning them, when we don't ditch or half-heartedly do our assignments. Not sure it is the architecture.

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We developed sentimental attachment because in those days we (including children to adults) built the things, and paid for them. Now the best we get is cleaning them, when we don't ditch or half-heartedly do our assignments. Not sure it is the architecture.

Funny I don't remember any of my lineage doing contract work for the WPA -- I suspect that indeed there is something about the architecture.

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There is something about the architecture. In Europe a building isn't really old until it is 500 years old. One can still walk around places where Columbus walked, or Michelangelo, etc. It give a sense of history and a connection to others. Years ago, (sorry cinepro) I took my kids on a tour of SLC. One of the places we visited was the SL cemetery where we looked at the gravesites of some of the prophets of previous generation. As strange as that might be to some , it made the prophets more 'real' to my kids.

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There is something about the architecture. In Europe a building isn't really old until it is 500 years old. One can still walk around places where Columbus walked, or Michelangelo, etc. It give a sense of history and a connection to others. Years ago, (sorry cinepro) I took my kids on a tour of SLC. One of the places we visited was the SL cemetery where we looked at the gravesites of some of the prophets of previous generation. As strange as that might be to some , it made the prophets more 'real' to my kids.

I wonder though, if some of the buildings being built right now last 100 years, will they resonate with anything?

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