The permanence of religion has always lent itself to the creation of places of worship that were built to last. Such permanence is usually reflected with the use of stone. As we enter the Holy Week for Christians & the preparation of Passover for the Jewish people I thought it would be interesting to explore unique stone structures used for worship. In our own backyard one of the most unique uses of stone is the Ave Maria Oratory. The landmark $24 million structure was funded & built by Tom Monaghan of Dominoe’s Pizza fame. The oval shape reinforces the focal quality of the Oratory, and all major roadways serving the town radiate from this central position. “It’s what any firm might say about any town-planning initiative, all axes and sightlines. But then you hit the final clause of the sentence and discover that there’s a bit more going on: In front of the Oratory stands a 65-foot-tall statue of Christ on the cross. We needed a freestanding element in the elliptical plaza,” says Todd Hill, a vice president at the Atlanta office of EDAW, another planning firm that helped configure Ave Maria.
The Uchimura Kanzo Memorial Stone Church The compelling Uchimura Kanzo Memorial Stone Church is located in Karuizawa, a mountain resort in Nagano Prefecture. It was designed by Kendrick Kellogg, an American architect in 1988 to honor the Japanese Christian evangelist, Uchimura Kanzo, and the underground of the church is his memorial hall. Kellogg is often hailed as one of the three grand masters of modern architecture, and is a disciple of the most famous proponent of organic architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright. From the exterior, the stone is set in a domino-effect and from within, the stone and glass arch forms an arc from east to west on the ceiling of the church, which allows sunshine to pour in from the sky, such that the mood and light inside the church constantly changes, depending on the position of the sun.
Chapel of the Holy Cross, Arizona Located south of Sedona amidst the beautiful red rocks of the area, the Chapel of the Holy Cross is a Catholic chapel designed by Marguerite Bruswig Staude. On a trip to New York City in 1932 she observed that a cross could be seen in the newly constructed Empire State Building when viewed from a certain angle, and was inspired to built a church based on that design. The Chapel of the Holy Cross was completed in 1956 and is built on a twin-pinnacled spur about 250 feet high, jutting out of a thousand foot red rock wall.