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The Other Assisi

It turned out there was no need to condemn Sigismondo to hell—his own defeats brought him to his knees. The Tempio Malatestiano, moreover, is now an active church, and people are trickling in for Saturday confession. Our group stops for discussion, and we concede a reluctant parallel with our own American Sigismondo, and then we imagine the ruins of a bankrupt Trump hotel, its deserted lobby the setting for a humble Mass. Continue Reading »

Monument to Failure

The General Services Administration, together with the D.C. State Historic Preservation Office, has determined that one of the most banal buildings in the nation’s capital is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It is the Department of Education’s headquarters, originally . . . . Continue Reading »

Making the Garden

It has taken me almost fifty years to understand fully that there is a necessary connection between God and architecture, and that this connection is, in part, empirically verifiable. Further, I have come to the view that the sacredness of the physical world—and the potential of the physical . . . . Continue Reading »

Re-Styling Tradition

A new Roman Catholic church, dedicated to St. Thomas Aquinas, has risen at the Newman Center of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Designed by architect Kevin Clark, the church and center together came in at a cost-effective $25 million. St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church is a classic . . . . Continue Reading »

Building on Truth

Building is a willful act of symbolic import, sometimes intended and sometimes not, and all architecture expresses the power of its makers and their aspiration to legitimate authority. This is true of individual buildings, public spaces, and all human settlements. Temple, forum, cathedral, city . . . . Continue Reading »

Henry Hope Reed, Defender of Decoration

The distinguished architectural historian Henry Hope Reed died May 1 at age ninety-seven. More than any cultural figure of his generation, Reed perpetuated an awareness of the classical tradition’s enduring role as the indispensable means for improving the human habitat … Continue Reading »

Sacred Spaces & Other Places

It’s no secret that the state of contemporary religious architecture in America is bad. Really bad. The American idea of inevitable progress runs into a brick wall when we compare the quality of our architectural output a century ago with the stuff we are building now. Every denomination’s . . . . Continue Reading »

A Dutch Master and the Good Life

What follows is prompted not by a cigar, but rather a painting by the Dutch (strictly speaking, Flemish) master Jan Van Eyck. “The Mystic Adoration of the Lamb” is the central painting of twenty panels of various sizes completed in 1432 that together constitute the Ghent Altarpiece. Since the . . . . Continue Reading »

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