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ASCF 13: New Patterns of Communion

May 31 - June 4, 2023

Our task at this critical moment is to awaken the energies needed to create the new world and to evoke a universal communion of all parts of life. — Thomas Berry

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General Information

The Forum on Architecture, Spirituality, and Culture will host its 2023 annual international symposium in New York City and its environs–one of the epicenters of the global pandemic–to explore, speculate, and contemplate the present and future of a post-pandemic world.

Our 13th Annual meeting will take place May 31 – June 4, 2023, when we will gather at Thomas Berry Place, a Passionist Retreat Center attached to their monastery in Jamaica, Queens, New York. New York is one of the most ethnically, culturally, spiritually, gastronomically, architecturally, and environmentally diverse places on the face of the Earth. We will partake of its environs with explorations of sacred landmark sites in and around the city. Weatherwise, May/June is one of the best times to visit the New York City area. Early in June, afternoon high temperatures are very pleasant, averaging mostly in the low to mid-70sF (22-24C). Early morning lows will fall to the mid to upper 50sF (13-15C) while a couple of cooler mornings can see lows down into the upper 40sF to near 50F (9-10C).

All symposium events (save for exploration of New York environs) will take place at Thomas Berry Place, including meals and lodging. While its setting is amid one of the world’s most vital cities, the Thomas Berry Place venue offers a private, contemplative, and beautiful setting conducive to sharing, considering, and speculating about the issues before us. Well served by public transportation, Thomas Berry Place is highly accessible, steps away from the Jamaica 179th Street stop on the city’s E and F subway lines. The venue is a short, 20-minute drive from either LaGuardia Airport (LGA) or JFK International Airport (JFK).

As in previous symposia, ACSF 13 will be structured around a main topic (“New Patterns of Communion”) but is also open for ideas, works, and proposals relevant to the Forum’s areas of interest. We will keep the number of attendees to around 50 to maintain an intimate and dialogical atmosphere. The opening keynote address will be given by Suchi Reddy (whose award-winning design practice focus on cultural, educational, healthcare, retail, commercial, and residential projects) and Sharon Prince (CEO and founder of Grace Farms, a peaceful respite and porous platform for people to experience nature, encounter the arts, pursue justice, foster community, and explore faith). We are also looking forward to screening the ACSF/CTI Critical Conversations films followed by discussion for the third evening. As is our custom, the final evening will be dedicated to presenting the ACSF Outstanding Achievement Award followed by the recipient’s keynote address. This year, it will be renowned Spanish architect Alberto Campo Baeza.

Established in 2007, the Architecture, Culture, and Spirituality Forum provides an international forum for scholarship, education, practice, and advocacy regarding the cultural and spiritual significance of the built environment. ACSF believes that the design and experience of the built environment can assist the spiritual development of humanity in service of addressing the world’s most pressing issues.

Theme

The world during the worldwide pandemic suffered not only medically but also spiritually. We isolated ourselves from each other, missed family members and friends, forewent serendipitous opportunities to form new bonds with strangers. Some sought refuge from the city while others discovered previously crowded urban environments unladen. We became islands in seas of caution, self-preservation, and restraint. But no one is an island.

Emerging from this historic, global event, we know we have been changed. The places we live, the places where we work, the settings of communion with others have undergone change as well. We perceive and use natural and built environments in new ways, and our experiences with our brothers and sisters around the planet prompt questions about the role of architecture, art, design, our environment. We are drawn to the city for the ACSF 13 symposium, to one of the world’s greatest metropolises: New York. Here, we invite you to explore, speculate, and contemplate the present and future in a post-pandemic world.

How do places heal us spiritually? How do they bring us together and help forge connections? How does architecture free us from isolation, how does it provide refuge for spiritual renewal? The pandemic introduced the need to formulate new ways of social interaction with our fellow human beings. Meals were shared in new settings; spiritual relationships underwent transformation. What are the architectural and environmental implications of these new patterns of communion with others? What have we gained or lost through these new patterns, and will they last?

Location

Our 13th Annual meeting will take place at Thomas Berry Place, a Passionist Retreat Center attached to their monastery in Jamaica, Queens, New York. Needless to say that New York is one of the most ethnically, culturally, spiritually, gastronomically, architecturally, and environmentally diverse places on the face of the Earth. We will partake of its environs with explorations of sacred landmark sites in and around the city. Despite this urban vibrancy, the Thomas Berry Place offers a private, contemplative, and beautiful setting conducive to sharing, considering, and speculating about the issues before us. All symposium events (save for exploration of New York environs) will take place here.

Cost

The cost of the Symposium will be as follows:

  • Day attendance + Overnight for singles (1 person): $ 1,000
  • Day attendance + Overnight for couples (2 people ): $ 1,900
  • Commuters: $600

This symposium fee will cover the following:

  • If you are staying overnight, you will get private accommodation for 4 nights in a newly renovated, monastery-style, air-conditioned bedroom with single bed (queen bed for couples), chair, and sink. Single rooms have desks. (washrooms and showers are down the hall. Many are private, but not all).
  • All meals: from dinner on May 31st to lunch on June 4th, you will receive 3 buffet service hot meals a day; snacks, coffee & juice during the breaks; appetizers during receptions. Wine will be served at receptions and dinners.
  • Access to all symposium activities.
  • Bus transportation to the local sacred sites tour with on-site guides and a box lunch.
  • A commemorative ACSF 13 T-Shirt.
  • All gratuities and taxes.

Accommodations

Those who have submitted an abstract will be notified of their acceptance on or before March 15th after which you will have two weeks to confirm your participation and one more week to register on-line prior to the rooms becoming available to the remaining ACSF membership and public at large.  Thomas Berry Place has 49 private bedrooms, 20 with Queen Sized beds and 29 with single beds.  Couples will have precedence over individuals for booking the Queen bedrooms.  If you are planning to attend the conference, to ensure a place on-site, you must register no later than April 5th, or preferably as soon as you receive your paper/workshop acceptance.  All bookings will be available online through ACSF.  Please do not contact Thomas Berry Place directly.  Thank you for your cooperation.

Accessibility & Travel

The Thomas Berry Place is well served by public transportation andhighly accessible, a 5-minute walk from the Jamaica 179th Street stop on the city’s E and F subway lines. The venue is a short, 20-minute drive from either LaGuardia Airport (LGA) or JFK International Airport (JFK) — U$S 20-25 outside of rush hour. There is free parking for those arriving by car.

Weather

May/June is one of the best times to visit the New York City area. Early in June, afternoon high temperatures are very pleasant, averaging mostly in the low to mid-70sF (22-24C).  Early morning lows will fall to the mid to upper 50sF (13-15C) while a couple of cooler mornings can see lows down into the upper 40sF to near 50F (9-10C).

Program

To view this year’s program, please click here.

Lectures

Keynote Lectures

Form Follows Feelings
May 31, 2023 | SUCHI REDDY (Readymade Design, New York City)

Architecture and the Scourge of Modern-Day Slavery
June 1, 2023 | SHARON PRINCE (Grace Farm, New Canaan, CT)

On Surrender and Universality
June 3, 2023 | ALBERTO CAMPO BAEZA (2023 Outstanding Achievement Award Keynote)

 

Outstanding Lectures

The following 7 lectures were selected among 32 paper or project presentations to receive the ACSF 13 Outstanding Presentation Award. The decision was made by the co-chairs of the symposium who attended all the presentations and based on a variety of criteria including scholarly/design contribution, clarity, insight, compelling arguments, beautiful craftsmanship, and more.

The order in which they appear below coincides with their place in the symposium program.

June 1, 2023 | MICHAEL J. CROSBIE
From Heavenly Garden to COVID Haven: The Rural Cemetery as Bucolic Refuge

June 1, 2023 | SANDA ILIESCU
The Intertwining of the Sacred and the Secular

June 1, 2023 | MARK PIERSON
“Tea and Bee”: Pop-up Built Environments for Curated Tea Rituals that Encourage Human Connection and Flourishing

June 2, 2023 | ALLEN PIERCE
After the Hand: The Growing Autonomy of Self-Expression in a Post-Craft World

June 2, 2023 | REZA ASSASI
Mithraic Influence on Early Christian Symbolism and Church Architecture

June 2, 2023 | KYLE DUGDALE
False Communion: Misappropriation of the Sacred

June 4, 2023 | JULIO BERMUDEZ & YOSHIO NAKAMURA

Can We Use Empirical Means to Understand Sacred Architecture? A Neurophenomenological Approach

Papers and Works

To view an archive of this year’s papers and works, please click here. The Collected Abstracts of the Thirteenth ACSF Symposium (May 31-June 4, 2023) were edited by Michael J. Crosbie, Roberto Chiotti, and Trent Smith (Symposium Chairs). Note: all submissions to the symposium underwent blind-peer review by at least 3 readers. Archived 05/09/2023

Symposium Theme: New Patterns of Communion


Paper Session 1: Sanctuaries and Refuges (moderator: Caitlin Watson)

Michael J. CrosbieFrom Heavenly Garden to COVID Haven: The Rural Cemetery as Bucolic Refuge
Samuel HolleranLetters, Lines, and Lasers: Photo-Engraved Monuments, Memory, and Image Moderation
Annette HomannSanctuaries in Core and Conjunction

Project Session 1: Teaching and Building (moderator: Jill Bambury)

Isabel PotworowskiSacred Space | Sacred Place: Pedagogical Reflections
Clive KnightsCommunity and the Potential of the Restorative Fragment
Sanda IliescuThe Intertwining of the Sacred and the Secular
Jeff DardozziMapping Theodicy: Building Through COVID

Project Session 2: Shared Space, Sacred and Profane (moderator: Trent Smith)

Nesrine MansourSurreal Transcendence: Exploration of The Sacred and Profane through Artificial Intelligence 
Anna Mette ExnerConnected
Anthony N. MonicaTransforming a University Covid Clinic into a Flexible Space for Cross-Disciplinary Communion & Spiritual Renewal
Lucca TownsendParkitecture: Sculpting spaces for shared experience within urban landscapes
Maria BottiglieriThe “Right to Adequate food” as a Driver of Inter-cultural and inter-Religious Use of Public Space: The Experience of Turin Open-City Before and After the Pandemic
Mark Pierson“Tea and Be”: Pop-Up Built Environments for Curated Tea Rituals that Encourage Human Connection and Flourishing

Paper Session 2: Communion: The Civic Dimension (moderator: Natalie Ellis)

Miriam GusevichCommunion, Community, and the Commons:  Reflections on the Public Domain 
Alison B. SnyderDoes the Urban Street Provide a Space for Spiritual Meandering?
Joshua ZinderLeveraging Design and Architecture for Social Change Through Faith-Oriented Large-Scale Community Events

Paper Session 3: Communion Through Community (moderator: Sanda Illescu)

Jill BamburyPreaching as Communion: The Power of the Sermon in the Black Churches of New Orleans
Pushpinder WaliaFrom Community Kitchen to Oxygen Langar… (Re)Discovering New Patterns of Communion in the Spiritual Legacy & Architecture of the Golden Temple
Allen PierceAfter the Hand: The Growing Autonomy of Self-Expression in a Post-Craft World

Paper Session 4: Sacred Heritage, Sacred Legacy (moderator: Julio Bermudez)

Andrea LonghiRedundant religious heritage: from burdensome legacy to plentiful resource
Amita SinhaUpasana Griha, Shantiniketan, India: A Spiritual Sanctuary
Reza AssasiMithraic Influence on Early Christian Symbolism and Church Architecture

Paper Session 5: Spiritual Space and Beyond (moderator: Nader Ardalan)

Dennis Alan WintersMeditations on the Spiritual Nature of Space
Kyle DugdaleFalse Communion: Misappropriation of the Sacred
Elizabeth DanzeExternal Destruction And Internal Chaos To Psychological And Spiritual Redemption
William Green, Kim Grinfeder, and Denis HectorSacred Space in the Metaverse

Paper Session 6: Balance, Contemplation, and Mindfulness (moderator: Nesrine Mansour)

Yoko KawaiMissing Links in Designing Space for Mindfulness in Secular & Collective Settings: Time, Movements, Perceived Space, & Subject-Object Blurriness
Sarika BajoriaBringing Contemplative Design Tools for Flourishing to Practicing Designers and Design Students
John A. FerriBridging the Connection

Paper Session 7: Ancient and Contemporary Appraisals (moderator: Tom Barrie)

Stephane Gaulin-BrownVitruvius’ Spiritual Perception of Matter
Julio Bermudez and Yoshio NakamuraCan We Use Empirical Means to Understand Sacred Architecture? A Neurophenomenological Approach
Julia W. RobinsonCommunity Engagement & the Design Studio: Communion by Doing

Three Keynote Lectures

Sharon PrinceHidden In Plain Sight: Architecture and the Scourage of Modern-Day Slavery
Suchi ReddyForm Follows Feeling
Alberto Campo Baeza(2023 ACSF Outstanding Achievement Awardee)On Surrender and Universality

Meeting Photos

Organizing Committee

Roberto Chiotti (Co-chair) — Larkin Architect Limited
email: roberto@larkinarchitect.com

Michael J. Crosbie (Co-chair) — University of Hartford
email: Crosbie@hartford.edu

Jamie Ohls (committee member) — Modern Out West
email:TBD

Trent Smith (committee member) — Modern Out West
email: trent@modernoutwest.com

Julio Bermudez (Webmaster)— The Catholic University of America
email: bermudez@cua.edu