The 2010 Architecture, Culture and Spirituality Symposium took place June 17-19 at the Abbey at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. St. John's is located about 90 minutes north of Minneapolis and the abbey/college are amongst 2500 wooded acres, containing 5 lakes and walking paths to woodland chapels. St. John's Abbey Church by Marcel Breuer is close to the guesthouse. These words by Marcel Breuer fit very well with the spirit of the place where we met:
Colors which you can hear with ears;
Sounds to see with eyes;
The void you touch with your elbows;
The taste of space on your tongue;
The fragrance of dimensions;
The juice of stone.
The symposium went from Thursday noon to Saturday noon, and our accommodations were on site at the new Abbey Guesthouse designed by Vincent James Architects. The guesthouse overlooks a lake and has a large outdoor deck, a dining hall, and other spaces for meeting and contemplation. The site was beautiful, peaceful, and inspiring: exactly the type of environment necessary to consider, share, and especulate about ACS issues. The number of active participants was about 30 which allowed us to maintain an intimate and dialogical atmosphere.
Symposium participants presented in three open sessions: Place and Scholarship; Theory and Philosophy; Design, Art, and Process and one focus session: The Active Engagements of Architecture. Special events and tours were part of the symposium and included: A guided tour/lecture on Marcel Breuer's St. John's Abbey Church by Breuer scholar Dr. Victoria Young (Associate Professor of Art History at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN), a tour/discussion of the St. John's Bible, the first completely handwritten and illuminated bible to have been commissioned by a Benedictine Abbey since the invention of the printing press. Evening presentations were given by Jennifer Yoos, Principal, Vincent James Associates Architects, Minneapolis, designers of the Abbey Guesthouse, and Michael Rotondi, Prinicipal of RoTo Architects, and well known designer and educator who focuses on contemplative space.
Our closing discussion affirmed the strong interest in meeting again in 2011, in another compelling contemplative setting.
The Forum for Architecture, Culture and Spirituality is an international scholarly environment established in 2007 to support architectural and interdisciplinary scholarship, research, practice, and education on the significance, experience and meaning of the built environment.