Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Forgotten Architectural Styles I: Hungarian Art Nouveau

Here's a fascinating collection of photos of the now increasingly endangered synagogue of the Serbian (formerly Hungarian) town of Subotica, a stunning piece of Hungarian art nouveau definitely worth one's study. Art Nouveau is increasingly coming back into the limelight as a favorite historic style, as Gaudi and his more conventional contemporaries in the singularly misnamed Modernismo movement are given their moments of reappraisal in the sun. However, the Subotica synagogue shows such sophisticated and innovative reworkings of folk art and architecture were hardly an isolated western European phenomenon, nor is their significance confined to history--the simplified, curvilinear forms and humble brick and stucco construction of this particular house of worship could easily be adapted to modern construction processes to create a marvelous building in an unusual style that nonetheless has deep historic roots.

On a sadder note, Subotica's synagogue is now almost all but empty. Most of the city's 6,000 Jews were shipped to Auschwitz and never returned. While many are calling for its restoration as a work of cultural and artistic importance, nobody is quite sure what they should do with it if it is ever returned to its former glory.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Catholic Mass/Presbyterian Church

OK, maybe 220 years ago, we would be knocking each other on the head for this, but the Presbyterians in Wilmette are showing a real knack for the Catholic Mass.
The First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette performed Mozart's Missa brevis in G this morning, and performed it beautifully and reverentially. I am not familiar enough with Presbyterianism and the teachings of Calvin and Knox to get much historical perspective on this, but logistically it worked pretty well, considering having a Catholic mass sandwiched in a Presbyterian service is a bit unconventional.
Speaking of unconventional, Joe McHale, grandson of Joe McCarthy mentioned that his grandfather most likely built 1st Presbyterian under an assumed name, and it does have all the trappings of the Great Chicago Ecclesiologist.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

More Chicago Spaces

By now you have signed up for Dr. McNamara's Sunday afternoon tour of the South Shore Churches (St. Michael's, Our Lady of Peace, St. Philip Neri), but our friend Suzanne Morgan is showing Hyde Park's glory as well on Saturday.

"Hyde Park's Magnificent Sacred Spaces (trolley, 32) Suzanne Morgan, President, Center for Religious Architecture Rich in history, these three sacred places exhibit the unique features of architecture and worship. Highlights include St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, the first modern style Catholic Church in America, KAM Isaiah Israel Temple, harkening back to Byzantine designs of Palestinian origin, and Augustana Evangelical Lutheran, illustrating the sacraments and symbols of the Lutheran tradition. 1:00pm/ 3 hrs."

If you sign up for both, I think you only have to pay once. And yes, St. Thomas the Apostle is by the brilliant Francis Barry Byrne, on of the first modernists (from a time when modernism did not mean ugly and dysfunctional) This is quite a tour!
UPDATE: If you have seen too much fine architecture and want to see what is wrong with the Modern, try this tour.
Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist 55 E. Wacker Drive Open - Saturday, May 19 Hours - 10:00am - 2:00pm Program - Drop in; tour guides available Harry Weese designed this church edifice, completed in 1968 and constructed of pre-cast concrete. While it is a well-recognized building, most are unaware that it is a church with a seating capacity of 800.

ABC 7 Follows up on SSB Story

Perhaps the best local news coverage in Chicago, ABC-7, with perhaps the best news anchor, local or national, Ron Magers has made a series of videos of the Driehaus properties on Erie Street in the Gold Coast. Well done, pleasant music, and a great follow up to our original photos of the Driehaus Prize, also taken at the properties mentioned on the newscast.

Here are outstanding video tours of:

John Murphy Auditorium

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Backstage with the Bishop

Restore and Renew, a $10 Million campaign for Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago has kicked off and is making great progress.

Reverend Dan Mayall, Pastor of Holy Name Cathedral and Most Reverend Timothy J. Lyne, Auxillary Bishop of Chicago, along with hosts Keith and Mary Armato cordially invite readers of and contributors to the Society of St. Barbara to learn more about the "Friends of the Cathedral", a group dedicated to the effort to preserve and restore the Cathedral for future generations.

Please email me at the Society of St. Barbara (or just show up) May 20 at 3PM at the Cathedral for "Backstage with the Bishop" a one of a kind presentation and tour of Holy Name Cathedral with Bishop Timothy J. Lyme. Reception, Cocktails, Hors D'oeuvres, and Mass.
The Catholic Renaissance continues in Chicago.

We All Knew It: High Ceilings Are Good in Churches

The wisdom of the Church has been known for millenia, and now science has "proven" it: high ceilings are good for expansive, creative thinking.
A recent study at the University of Minnesota suggests that ceiling height affects problem- solving skills and behavior by priming concepts that encourage certain kinds of brain processing. "Priming means a concept gets activated in a person's head," researcher Joan Meyers-Levy told LiveScience. "When people are in a room with a high ceiling, they activate the idea of freedom. In a low-ceilinged room, they activate more constrained, confined concepts."

The labeling for their somewhat abstract concepts, "freedom" and "confinement," comes from a speculative paper on how lofty cathedral ceilings might encourage a different religious experience from the low ceilings of a modest chapel. Theirs may be the first empirical study to make use of these terms in describing concepts that influence behavior. Meyers-Levy and Zhu will publish their results this August in the Journal of Consumer Research.

This study was meant to apply to business methods, recommending that "managers should want noticeably higher ceilings for thinking of bold initiatives." What could be bolder than establishing a connection with God through the sacramental system of the liturgy? Let's end the age of ecclesiastical architectural mediocrity!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Lion House fit for the King

Beautiful Ceiling on Dwight Perkins' Lion House at Lincoln Park Zoo. Reminds me of tamed down version of the lively ceiling on Corpus Christ Church on South Side.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Great Chicago Spaces with Dr. McNamara

The Mayor's Office of Special Events, The Society of St. Barbara and Denis McNamara are proud to announce a Rare Tour of 3 South Shore masterpieces of Chicago Ecclessiology.

South Shore Churches (trolley, 32)
Denis McNamara, PhD, Director, Liturgical Institute
Visit three historic churches, featuring interior tours of St. Michael's, William Brinkman's towering brick masterpiece; St. Philip Neri, Joseph McCarthy's Prairie/Gothic miniature skyscraper and Our Lady of Peace, McCarthy's Italian Renaissance style in blue marble. 1:45pm/ 2 hrs.

Register Here

Thanks to Mayor Daley's Office, the Archdiocese of Chicago, and the Parishes of St. Michael, St. Philip Neri, and Our Lady of Peace for their support in organizing these tours.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Exuberance at 360 N. Michigan

Another nice shot from Flckr and University of Minnesota (Left) . The London Guarantee Building at 360 N. Michigan, flows with Wrigley, Tribune and 333 N. Michigan for a Chicago 4 Pack of Powerhouse Buildings.

Alfred S. Alschuler 1922-3. The City says it is Beaux Arts, I suppose, Classical Revival, perhaps. Brawny Chicago Style-definitely.