What Makes a Space Sacred? to Be Pondered at Three-Day Yale Event

The nature of religious architecture in the contemporary age is the focus of two events being held at Yale this week.

A conference titled “Architecture for Worship in the 21st Century” will take place Thursday–Friday, October 25–26, at the Institute of Sacred Music (ISM), and a symposium titled  “Constructing the Ineffable: Contemporary Sacred Architecture” will be held Friday–Saturday, October 26–27, at the School of Architecture.

ISM conference
“Architecture for Worship in the 21st Century” will bring together architects, members of the clergy and designers to speculate about how future houses of worship, particularly the church, can reflect changing religious and spiritual attitudes in a culturally diverse world, while retaining their own identity.

The ISM conference will begin on Thursday at 1 p.m., with introductory remarks by conference organizers Jaime Lara, associate professor of Christian art and architecture at ISM and the Divinity School, and Karla Britton, a lecturer at the School of Architecture. It will feature three panels: “Rediscovering Sacred Space: Worship, Architecture, and Meaning in 20th century America,” “Ecclesiology and Church Design: A Balancing Act In Times of Transition” and “New Wine, Old Wineskins: Building and Rebuilding the House of the Church,” The session will take place in the Great Hall at ISM, 409 Prospect St.

Robert Schuller, founding pastor and chair of the board of the Crystal Cathedral, will deliver the keynote address of at 6 p.m. that evening in Marquand Chapel, 409 Prospect St.

Friday’s session will be held 9 a.m.–noon at St. Thomas More Chapel and Catholic Center at Yale, 268 Park St. The panel topics will be “A View from Europe: The Spirituality of Spatial Emptiness” and “The Future of Church Architecture in the United States.”

For more information about this conference or to register in advance, visit www.yale.edu/ism or call (203) 432-3220.

Architecture symposium
The Yale School of Architecture phase of this multidisciplinary event, “Constructing the Ineffable: Contemporary Sacred Architecture,” will begin at 2 p.m. on Friday following the ISM conference.

Jointly sponsored by the School of Architecture, the Yale Divinity School and ISM, “Constructing the Ineffable” seeks to broaden the discussion about the nature of the sacred in an architectural and urban context. An audience of philosophers, architects, scholars and critics representing a mosaic of faiths and cultures will consider the powerful influence of religion on public life and explore the role architecture and design will play in the construction of buildings of worship.  Among the featured speakers will be architect Zaha Hadid, Moshe Safdie, Stanley Tigerman, Peter Eisenman, Rafael Moneo and Steven Holl.

The afternoon session will focus on “Memory and Identity.” At 6:30 p.m., Vincent Scully, Sterling Professor Emeritus of the History of Art, will deliver the keynote address, “The Earth, The Temple and Today.”

The Saturday program will include two sessions, “Constructing the Immaterial,” at 9:30 a.m., and “The Language of the Ineffable” at 1:30 p.m. A closing response will be given by Paul Goldberger, architecture critic for the New Yorker magazine.

All sessions of the symposium will take place at the McNeil Lecture Hall of the Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel St. (enter on High Street).

For a complete list of participants or for registration information, visit the website

Call (203) 432-2889; or send e-mail to archevents@yale.edu.



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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345