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Seeking the Sacred in Contemporary Religious Architecture

Art, Sacred Landmarks

Foreword by Michael J. Crosbie


A compelling study of what makes a sacred place sacred

From ancient temp les to modern churches, synagogues, and mosques, architects throughout history have invested their creative energies to design sacred spaces. Many cultures devoted considerable resources to their sacred architecture, and sacred spaces are among the most impressive and permanent structures created by humanity.

Author Douglas R. Hoffman explores sacredness in houses of worship and examines the critical question of what architectural elements contribute to make sacred space. His underlying premise is that sacred space, while ephemeral, can be perceived and understood through a careful investigation of its architecture. After laying out the definition and architectural attributes of sacred space, Hoffman examines four contemporary American examples: the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, Adath Jeshurun Synagogue in Minnetonka, Minnesota, the Islamic Cultural Center in New York City, and Riverbend Church in Austin, Texas.

Illustrated with dozens of color photographs, Seeking the Sacred in Contemporary Religious Architecture presents the notion of the sacred in a cogent, engaging way that can be understood and appreciated by all, even as it will be valued by religious and architectural historians and scholars.


Douglas R. Hoffman, AIA, is the former denominational architect for the United Methodist Church. He manages the Cleveland office of the architectural firm of Weber Murphy Fox and has edited several books and articles on religious art and architecture.