Making a Modern Church Still Look Like a Church

Jay M. Price

in Temples for a Modern God

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199925957
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980482 | DOI:
Making a Modern Church Still Look Like a Church

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Although some of the most striking (or unusual, depending on the perspective) examples of religious architecture emerged in the postwar decades, the era actually saw an unfolding conversation about style and design. Building committees initially remained wedded to some form of “traditional” architecture save for a handful of congregations who favored the notoriety of something “modern.” As the early postwar years transitioned into the 1950s and early 1960s, the design of churches and synagogues changed. Gothic and Colonial Revival gave way to mid-century traditional. European-inspired modernism transitioned into a Modern Gothic approach where the features of the Gothic cathedral were reinterpreted using contemporary aesthetics and materials. By the 1960s, religious consultants, architects, and others began to rethink the house of worship. Instead of imitating medieval cathedrals in modern styles, the new approach favored a total reworking of sacred space to emphasize the assembled community, with the central altar as the key feature.

Keywords: church architecture; Modern Gothic; liturgical worship; mid-century traditional; Basilican; laminated truss; parabolic arch; modern architecture

Chapter.  13315 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christianity

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