The Feb. 10 edition of The Living Church is available online to registered subscribers.

In this edition’s cover story, architect Duo Dickinson writes about the importance of Christopher Alexander’s influence on church design:

In parts of Western Europe and in my own New England, religion is in a free fall from public support and cultural resonance. Architecture is often the canary in the cave for cultural change, manifesting what people believe in built accommodation. The eruption of church expansion in America after World War II realized the huge and anomalous explosion of a country’s reset from a war, and a culture that leapfrogged to a middle-class model of manufacturing expansionism and a suburbanism encouraged by interstate highways.

In that context, the architect Christopher Alexander became a seminal presence. A former professor at the University of Cambridge, Harvard, MIT, and Berkeley, and now in England, his academic credentials as a teaching architect are almost legendary. His writing has offered a different perspective than that of the traditional Modernist Fine Arts Canon that developed after the war.

His book A Pattern Language established an alternative method that was simply not following the rules that architects created unique visions of their insight. This is the “starchitect” model of venerating the genius creator, like Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, or the late Zaha Hadid. Instead, Alexander saw the Michelangelo model that the architect channels beauty that is already there, the sculpture that is already in the block of marble, ready to be revealed.

His other books — including Notes on the Synthesis of Form, A City is Not a Tree, The Timeless Way of Building, A New Theory of Urban Design, and The Oregon Experiment — have sold so well, despite being outside the academic mainstream, that he may be the leading seller of writings on architectural design of all time. Recently he completed the four-volume The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe, about his newer theories of “morphogenetic,” almost spiritual, design.

News

  • Crossing Borders in Nogales
    By Kirk Smith
  • Bp. Love Accepts Inhibited Authority
    By Kirk Petersen

Features

  • God and the Architect
    By Duo Dickinson
  • United by Creativity
    By Douglas LeBlanc
  • Faith Talks: Forgive Us Our Sins
    By Wesley Hill | Response by Amber Noel

Books

  • The Art and Science of the Church Screen in Medieval Europe
    Review by Ayla Lepine
  • Scaffolds of the Church
    Review by Zachary Guiliano
  • Strangers in a Strange Land
    Review by Philip Reed

Other Departments

  • People & Places
  • Sunday’s Readings

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