Book Review: "Saint John's Abbey Church: Marcel Breuer and the Creation of a Modern Sacred Space," by Victoria M. Young
A history of the making of a contemporary sacred architectural masterpiece transcends its subject and becomes a broadly applicable study of peerless client-architect communication.
By Norman Weinstein,
December 19, 2014
In Theology in Stone: Church Architecture from Byzantium to Berkeley
, a valuable and largely solemn overview of sacred architecture penned by Richard Kieckhefer, the author permits himself one lighthearted moment. Playing with the title of Tom Wolfe’s From Bauhaus to Our House
, Kieckhefer’s jests that someone should write a book on Modernism’s impact on sacred architecture entitled, “From Bauhaus to God’s House.”
Uncannily, that is precisely what professor of modern architectural history Victoria M. Young has done in Saint John’s Abbey Church: Marcel Breuer and the Creation of a Modern Sacred Space (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), a towering history of Breuer’s Bauhaus-influenced design of the church. One can only regret that Young’s book is saddled with an academically dry title with none of Kieckhefer’s or Wolfe’s wit. But that is easily overlooked when considering how Young’s book dazzles as an illuminating story of a critical episode in church architectural history, replete with lessons for architects in the present.
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