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ACSF 2: Second Annual Symposium

June 17–19. 2010

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General Information

The 2010 Architecture, Culture and Spirituality Symposium took place June 17-19 at the Abbey at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. St. John’s is located about 90 minutes north of Minneapolis and the abbey/college are amongst 2500 wooded acres, containing 5 lakes and walking paths to woodland chapels. St. John’s Abbey Church by Marcel Breuer is close to the guesthouse. These words by Marcel Breuer fit very well with the spirit of the place where we met:

Colors which you can hear with ears;
Sounds to see with eyes;
The void you touch with your elbows;
The taste of space on your tongue;
The fragrance of dimensions;
The juice of stone.

The symposium went from Thursday noon to Saturday noon, and our accommodations were on site at the new Abbey Guesthouse designed by Vincent James Architects. The guesthouse overlooks a lake and has a large outdoor deck, a dining hall, and other spaces for meeting and contemplation. The site was beautiful, peaceful, and inspiring: exactly the type of environment necessary to consider, share, and especulate about ACS issues. The number of active participants was about 30 which allowed us to maintain an intimate and dialogical atmosphere.

Symposium participants presented in three open sessions: Place and Scholarship; Theory and Philosophy; Design, Art, and Process and one focus session: The Active Engagements of Architecture. Special events and tours were part of the symposium and included: A guided tour/lecture on Marcel Breuer’s St. John’s Abbey Church by Breuer scholar Dr. Victoria Young (Associate Professor of Art History at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN), a tour/discussion of the St. John’s Bible, the first completely handwritten and illuminated bible to have been commissioned by a Benedictine Abbey since the invention of the printing press. Evening presentations were given by Jennifer Yoos, Principal, Vincent James Associates Architects, Minneapolis, designers of the Abbey Guesthouse, and Michael Rotondi, Prinicipal of RoTo Architects, and well known designer and educator who focuses on contemplative space.

Our closing discussion affirmed the strong interest in meeting again in 2011, in another compelling contemplative setting.

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 activities took place in the St. John’s Abbey Guesthouse. The Abbey Guesthouse is located about 15 miles west of St. Cloud in Collegeville, Minnesota, on the campus of Saint John’s Abbey and University, in the “heart of Minnesota,” 90 miles NW of the Twin Cities, near Garrison Keillor’s fabled “Lake Wobegon”.

St. John’s University is particularly well known for Marcel Breuer’s stunning Abbey Church (1961). We were lucky to experience this remarkable building first hand.

The cost for lodging at the Abbey Guesthouse was very reasonable considering its beautiful, comfortable, and peaceful nature. Thursday and Friday nights lodging and all food and beverages was $195 for one person in a room — and for two people in a room the price is $155 per person.

As with the first symposium, there were NO symposium fees and all sessions were open to the public. Attendants only had to cover their room and board expenses (unless they came for the day and/or arrange their accommodations in near-by facilities).

Those interested could attend services in the Abbey Church (open to the public) at these times:

Monday – Friday
7:00-7:30 a.m. Morning Prayer
12:00-12:15 p.m. Midday Prayer
5:00-5:30 p.m. Mass
7:0-7:40 p.m. Evening Prayer

7:00-7:30 a.m. Morning Prayer
11:30 a.m. Mass
7:00 p.m. Vigil of Sunday


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


Ardalan, Nader
Barrie, Tom
Battaglia, Paul
Benedikt, Michael
Bermudez, Julio
Bernstein, Charles
Chang, Hyejung
Coates, Gary
Crosbie, Michael
Handa, Rumiko
Heimsath, Ben
Hermann, Heinrich
Krinke, Rebecca
Mulder, Karen
Padget, Steve
Pereyra, David
Quinn, Patrick
Rotondi, Michael
Senbel, Maged
Siepl-Coates, S.
Snyder, Alison
Tabb, Phillip
Teal, Randy
Tesar, Paul
Winters, Dennis

Papers and Works

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

Collected Abstracts of the Second ACS Symposium (June 17-19, 2010)

Edited by Julio Bermudez and Rebecca Krinke (Symposium Chairs)

Note: all submissions to the symposium underwent peer review by at least 3 readers. Archived 7/23/2010.

ACS Design/Art/Process
Ardalan, Nader Spiritual Duets
Coates, Gary Toward a Rebirth of the Sacred: An Introduction to the Visual Art of Adi Da Samraj
Heimsath, Ben Spirituality Through the Shared Process of Creation
Krinke, Rebecca Writing Towards the Transcendent
Padget, Steve Designing Aabow Mo’alin Nur Mosque
Teal, Randy Design Faith: Kierkegaard and the Designer
ACS Places & Scholarship
Bermudez, Julio The Important Role of Spatial, Cultural, and Psychical ‘Distancing’ in Profound Experiences of Architecture.
Geva, Anat The “Holy” Light of Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois (1906)
MULDER, Karen Seeing Darkly Through [A] Glass: The Interdisciplinary Model as a Constant in Postwar Studies
Siepl-Coates, Susanne Cultural Transformation: User Perspectives on the Architecture of the Palliative Care Center in Göttingen, Germany
Snyder, Alison The Subtlety of Urban Sacred Zones in Istanbul
Tabb, Phillip Mythic Landscapes – Place Drawing as a Sacred Practice
Keynote Lectures
Vincent James & Jennifer Yoos
Michael Rotondi
The Active Engagement of Architecture
Barrie, Barrie The Active Engagement of Architecture
Hermann, Heinrich Aiming at a palpable sense of the spiritual in a private home
Pereyra, David Play, Symbol and Festival in Liturgical Architecture
Winters, Dennis Pretapuri: Sacred Landscape of Western Tibet and Expression of Spiritual Practice
ACS Theory & Philosophy
Battaglia, Paul Why It’s Important for an Architect to Look Like a Jesuit
Benedikt, Michael Love and Beauty
Chang, Hyejung Spirituality as consummatory experience of place
Handa, Rumiko How Architectural Ruins Entice the Observers’ Engagement: The Hermeneutical Function of Distanciation
Senbel, Maged Spirituality and Urban Agriculture: Environments that Inspire Awe, Humility and Reverence
Tesar, Paul Relevance, Spirituality, and Architecture


The ACS 8 participants posing together (7 or 8 attendees missed the shot, sorry!).

Organizing Committee

Julio Bermudez (Co-chair) — University of Utah

Rebecca Krinke (Co-chair) — University of Minnesota

Maged Senbel — University of British Columbia

Susanne Siepl-coates — Kansas State University

Phillip Tabb — Texas A&M University

Paul Tesar — North Carolina State University