Monday, May 17, 2004

Ave Maria University's disastrous chapel design

Ave Maria University's proposed design for its new chapel, projected to be the largest Catholic church in the United States, looks to be a disastrous repetition of the appalling Bauhaus architectural styles that have become nearly normative since the 1970s. Already back in March, Michael Rose urged the university to "return to the drawing boad but quick!" ( Rose included in his discussion examples of much preferable examples of successful building projects that incorporate the best from both tradition and modern architechtural technology. In the latest issue Adoremus Bulletin, Editor Joseph Fessio features a number of articles addressing the issue of contemorary Catholic church architecture, and Michael Rose is author of a feature article offering a substantial critique of the Ave Maria proposal (click here). Michael Rose writes:
Decidedly abstract and modernist in its architectural vocabulary, the proposed design markedly breaks with the historical continuity of two millennia of Catholic church architecture. Yet far from being a new "break", the huge chapel's retro style of the 1960s is but another example of the persistent disregard for history that has characterized most church architecture of the past half-century: in other words, outdated "novelty".
A massive loss of public enthusiasm and financial support for the university over the current chapel design is a definite (and understandable) possibility.

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