General Summary of the Event

The Inaugural Architecture, Culture and Spirituality Symposium took place March 24 – 26, 2009 at the Mt. Angel Abbey Retreat House, St. Benedict (near Salem), Oregon. The meeting was a moving and successful event. More than 30 members convened in the Abbey’s hilltop setting of natural beauty and constructed sacred space - where the Benedictine fathers were our very gracious hosts.

This meeting offered the opportunity for the ACS community to share, discuss, and explore practices, pedagogies, and studies within the multifarious subject areas of architecture, culture and spirituality. Besides the stated events of the advance program — the presentation of papers on research and built work, the workshop, and facilitated discussions — it was perhaps the impromptu, shared events that really began to create the beginnings of a new community. These events included such things as a large whiteboard being used spontaneously to capture thinking on what the ACS might be now and could become. On the last night, informal discussion groups formed on an impromptu basis, including groups on teaching, on creating a framework to carry forward the ideas generated in the symposium, on the new work of Michael Benedikt, and on personal experiences with spiritual practice and place.

At the close of the symposium, the assembled group discussed the future of ACS, and about key areas to work on as an ACS community. One result of discussion was that yearly meetings in a sacred setting were deemed important to keep momentum strong.

There was a spirit to this symposium of sharing, friendliness, listening, and discussing without competition or holding back that created what the symposium organizers had hoped for: a joyful event of shared passion for this field of study.

In closing, we would like to thank everyone for their participation and energy. We are excited to see the beginnings of a shared area of inquiry that we expect to have a major impact on the future of design practices and education.

Images from our time together at Mt. Angel are now accesible from this website ("meeting photos" link on your left). For a full brochure of this Symposium, please click here. Other follow up material will be posted in the general ACS website over the next weeks.


The ACS Inaugural Symposium Organizing Committee
Tom Barrie, Julio Bermudez, Anat Geva, Rebecca Krinke, Phillip Tabb, Randall Teal


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.