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ACSF 1: Inaugural Symposium

March 24–26, 2009

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General Information

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.

Location & Cost

All symposium sessions took place in the Mt. Angel Monastery Retreat House, which includes a lecture hall, break spaces, a chapel, a quiet reading room, a roof deck and small meeting rooms. The monastery is accessible by van shuttle service from the Portland International Aiport (approximately 40 minutes). The cost per person, including 2 nights (single-occupancy) and 3 meals a day, was $275. (A limited number of double-occupancy rooms are available for $250).

There was NO symposium fees. Attendants only had to cover their room and board expenses.

The Mount Angel Abbey Schedule was as follows (weekdays):

Vigils: 5:20 a.m.
Lauds: 6:30 a.m.
The Holy Eucharist: 8:00 a.m.
Midday Prayer: 12 noon
Vespers: 5:15 p.m.
Compline: 7:30 p.m.


To download a copy of this year’s Symposium program, click here.


To download a copy of this year’s Symposium participants, click here.

Papers & Works

To view an archive of this year’s papers and works, please click here.

Collected Abstracts of the First ACS Symposium (March 24-26, 2009)

Edited by Thomas Barrie and Julio Bermudez (Symposium Chairs)

Note: all submissions to the symposium underwent peer review by at least 3 readers. Archived 6/1/2009.

Current Research, Practice and Teaching in ACS
Hermann, HeinrichOn Teaching The Design of Poetically/Spiritually Charged Environments
Mead, PhilipThe Greek Asclepian Hospital and Its Archetypal Presences
Saloojee, OzayrThe Next Largest Thing: The Spatial Dimensions of Liturgy in Eliel Saarinen’s Final Built Work, Christ Church Lutheran.
Senbel, MagedFrom the Life Spirit of Unbuilt Place to Spirit Enriching Built Space: Towards a Spirit Centric Urban Environment
Starkey, BradleyThe Spiritual in Models of Thought and Models of Architecture: A Design-based Approach to Researching the Spiritual
Teal, RandyThe Place of the Divinities
Ardalan, NadarPhenomenal and Spiritual Sustainability
Tesar, PaulHabit, Habitation, and Spirituality
Winters, DennisRegarding Sacred Landscapes and the Everyday Corollary
Truth, Beauty and Goodness Beyond the Obvious
Benedikt, MichaelTruth, Beauty and Goodness Beyond the Obvious
Bermudez, JulioThe Extraordinary in Architecture: Studying and Acknowledging the Reality of the Spiritual
Coates, GaryEvoking a Sense of the Sacred: Memory, Imagination and Meaning in Carl Nyren’s Vitlycke Museum 
Padget, SteveChristopher Wren, Christian Cabala and the Tree of Life
ACS Workshop
A.T. MannSacred Symbolic Architecture – Time, Orientation and Meditation
The Sacred in Everyday Life and Its Consequences in Everyday Architecture
Tabb, PhilThe Everyday Sacred of Serenbe Community
Mazumdar, Sanjoy & Mazumdar, ShampaOrdinary spaces and extraordinary sacredness: The Hindu festival of lights
Redfield, WendyThe Sacred in Everyday Pedagogy: Efforts to infuse architectural design pedagogy with
Siepl-Coates, SusanneCreating a Sense of the Sacred:The Palliative Care Unit at the University Hospital in Göttingen, Germany.
Current Work on ACS in Research and Practice
Baek, JimThe Empty Cross of the Church of the Light: Between Buddhism and Christianity
Barrie, TomThe Architecture of The In-Between. The Mediating Roles of Sacred Places
Crosbie, MikeGreening God’s House: Connections between Theology, Ecology, and Architecture
Jacks, BenSacred and Real: Instrumental and Transcendent Writing About Architecture and the Built Environment
Snyder, AlisonSynagogue Redux or Continuum?
Paul, VivianGround-penetrating Radar Imaging at the Gothic Abbey Church of Valmagne, France
Habiger, RobertEssential Ingredients of a Church Design Process
Aravot, IrisArchitectural Beauty in Light of the Symbolic Form Myth
Bender, TomThe Different Truths of a Sacred Culture, and Their Implications for Architecture


The participants of the First ACS Symposium.

Organizing Committee

Tom Barrie — North Carolina State University

Julio Bermudez — University of Utah

Anat Geva — Texas A&M University

Rebecca Krinke — University of Minnesota

Phillip Tabb — Texas A&M University

Randall Teal – University of Idaho