"New" Cathedral in Haiti...

Today I heard the news on the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption (Haiti).

Some background, that is, how this beautiful church used to look before the earthquake:

front and side

Now here’s how the “new” Cathedral supposedly will look like in a comparison by the architect:

before & after

schematic

According to the architect, it is designed to be

a concentric worship space consistent with the new liturgy

I don’t like the way this is being presented. We already find, f.ex. something “concentric” within St. Peter’s Basilica (see photo) and without the need to “modernize” and “optimize” the setting of the liturgy or to say such absurdities as “new” liturgy. I mean, this is how we get such weird things as the “spiral” sanctuary for s. Padre Pio, or Vienna’s “Church of Christ, Hope of the World”, described as “a black gleaming cuboid”.

Seriously, those with authority must acknowledge that we don’t need any of this nonsense. If we want reverence to be promoted, then we need more like this and like this, because I don’t know what Vatican II wanted, but they certainly did not and could not possibly want anything like this or whatever we are increasingly seeing today all over the world.

I could not agree with you more. This is sickening!!! thank GOD my parish church is gothic.

Sad, it looks like a regular building instead of the beautiful RC Cathedral you could instantly recognize.

That is merely a personal opinion.

What is one person’s taste may or may not be another’s. This MUST have been approved by a sucessor to the Apostles (Bishop), so I will side with his judgement for his church.

It looks pretty to me. I’m sure that they had to take into account the robustness of the building to earthquake and flood, and that probably factored into the design.

Surely traditional Catholicism doesn’t equate to Gothic architecture? Don’t get me wrong – I’m a medievalist, so I love Gothic. But, there is nothing wrong with modern architecture either.

Is it really personal opinion?

Does art ‘speak’? Does art reflect a mood or value to what is being portrayed?

If I was hired to design a living room, and I make a room narrow with low ceilings, black paint, no windows, no plush anything inside just concrete boxes to sit on and then proceed to tell the people whom I designed it for that its just their opinion that it isn’t suitable design for a living room, do you think they’d stand for it? No. I’d be fired as a designer.

Good art tastefully designs for its purpose. Good art strives to communicate.

Nazi and Communist art for propaganda had the same feel. Why? Because they were communicating a certain mindset. Their designers knew this. They sought to communicate it. You aren’t going to find a nice fluffy illustration with soft pastels to bring in the new regime. No, the bold lines, black and red colors- read ‘attention’ and 'power!" “boldness”.

All good designers know to design around a purpose. They design to communicate something.

Question is, what is this new church by the way it is designed communicating to others?

I don’t like this design, because I’m not big into geometric shapes. However, being on the inside, I can tell you folks that this type of building costs a fraction of what it would cost to build a Gothic or Romanesque building, not to mention the fraction of the cost in maintenance. If something breaks, it’s easier to get the materials and the labor. The other requires highly specialized artists and materials.

I don’t like the way this is being presented. We already find, f.ex. something “concentric” within St. Peter’s Basilica (see photo) and without the need to “modernize” and “optimize” the setting of the liturgy or to say such absurdities as “new” liturgy. I mean, this is how we get such weird things as the “spiral” sanctuary for s. Padre Pio, or Vienna’s “Church of Christ, Hope of the World”, described as “a black gleaming cuboid”.

I think that you may want to know about why Padre Pio’s shrine is built as it is and who commanded it, before you speak out of turn.

The reason was money. The Capuchin Franciscans had to foot the bill. That house, at which Padre Pio was stationed, does not generate income. It only has expenses. It serves as a house of formation and an infirmary for the older friars. It’s completely supported by the stipends that other friars from the province receive, which is never a full salary compared to a diocesan priest or a teaching brother or sister.

The design was approved by the superior general, who is the canonical successor to St. Francis and the only person who has the authority to decide how it’s to be built. Therefore, as the successor of St. Francis the design has to please him and not us. We’re nothing compared to him. He is the Ordinary of the Order. The only person above him is the Holy Father and St. Francis himself.

Seriously, those with authority must acknowledge that we don’t need any of this nonsense. If we want reverence to be promoted, then we need more like this and like this, because I don’t know what Vatican II wanted, but they certainly did not and could not possibly want anything like this or whatever we are increasingly seeing today all over the world.

These are very beautiful, but they are cost prohibitive today. Having said that, there are other modern forms of architecture that are what I could call “neo-classical”, which are better for a church, in my opinion. We just built two such churches in my diocese. They’re very beautiful on the outside and very austere on the inside. The architecture presents you with the tension that is part of salvation history.

This is St. Gregory the Great, finished less than five years ago.

This is Blessed John XXIII, which was finished just in time for the pope’s beatification.

Both are very modern and yet have a touch of the classical church building. They’re very spacious and best of all, they are much less expensive to maintain than the older buildings.

Please share. What makes it pretty to you? What do you like about it? What specifically do you find pretty?

Yes, I think so. The architects preserved what they could of the old cathedral, using new bell towers to buttress the main facade of the old church. Between that main facade and the new building is a colonnade topped by an open roof. Again, the idea seems to have been to preserve older elements and buttressing them as well.

I can’ say I am a fan of concentric church layouts. But I suppose the blockish outer building makes it more earthquake resistant.

Here is a look at the exterior, from the side
competition.ndapap.org/winners.php?projID=1028

(see illustration #8)

I wouldn’t say its sickening I prefer old style myself and admire the architecture but I don’t think modern Churchs are bad at all.

as long as we have a church for people to celebrate mass

Last time I checked, choosing the winner of an architecture competition or approving the structure of a church did not fall under infallibility :shrug: I mean, probably the cuboid was also approved by a Bishop :shrug:

@Br. JR, I understand and I was not necessarily criticizing the choice or judging the intention behind it, just expressing my personal distaste with a certain kind of architecture that seems to depart at great length with what Catholicism has always been about. I am sure you will agree in the spirit of humbleness that no matter who approved the design, I am still entitled to dislike it - though if I were a member of the community I’d bow my head in obedience to his choice, if my vow so required.

The look of the new one gives me that sports arena feeling. Just my opinion, I know I would not like the inside theater in the round look either. They don’t ever lift my mind and heart to God or give me that special “I’m in a house of my awesome majestic God” feeling, rather, what time does the event start.

Hey, it still looks better than what we’ve started calling the Space Cathedral in Saskatoon (sometimes tongue-in-cheek called Our Lady of the Crashed Millenium Falcon).

I never said that the judgment of a bishop was infallible. I merely said that I would trust his judgment for his church. If he didn’t like anything, he could have sent it back out.

I personally like the design. It looks very open and welcoming for large groups of people. Very open and airy for the type of climate in that area.

Even the viewers of PrayTell! of all places overwhelmingly dislike it. Good Lord!

Yes, that one is quite dreadful.

Ah yes the “ornate vs plain”, “old vs new” debate. Un-winnable I’m afraid, but since we’re allowed to have an opinion:

Ornate (and for a Benedictine Monastery, scandalous IMHO), the conventual chapel of Monte Cassino, rebuilt after WWII:

http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w312/OraLabora/Italy%202009/DSCN0457.jpg

Plain, a small chapel in the same monastery, the floor dates back to the 11th century. Much more to my tastes:

http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w312/OraLabora/Italy%202009/DSCN0492.jpg

Old (very, very old; now Anglican but once Catholic), St. Senara’s in Zennor, Cornwall, England, about 1400 years old though rebuilt in the 12h and 14th centuries I think:

http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w312/OraLabora/Stsenara1.jpg

New (1994, the conventual chapel of the abbey I’m affiliated with):

http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w312/OraLabora/eglisesbl.jpg

Even newer, the Trappist monastery in St-Jean-Matha, Quebec:

http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w312/OraLabora/EgliseVND.jpg

I like an austere church. The churches portrayed as “good” examples by the OP are not my thing, too ornate. Of the churches on this page, I like all except the first one, which is scandalous for a Benedictine monastery, an order with a tradition of austerity. It simply isn’t true to tradition.

There. I gave my opinion :smiley:

The only modern designs I really dislike are the ones which look like rocketships.

Can anyone set this up as a poll so we can express in specific numbers our opinions for whomever might listen–we might influence other design teams even if not Haiti itself.
For my part, I think the concept is very important that our sanctuaries should attempt to reflect the Glory and Perfection of God, to the best of our ability to design, construct, and finance them. Our local Parish is the closest to God’s Kingdom of Heaven that we will probably come in our lives, and I think our personal goals should be to assist our Parish, as well as our Diocesan Cathedral, reflect God’s Glory.

It is too late to set up a poll for this thread. But I am not sure it matters.

The best thing to do, when your diocese is considering a new cathedral (or church) is write a letter explaining your views. A real-world letter from a member of the diocese will carry much more weight than an online poll in some forum composed of anonymous persons.

I think the least successful one of the austere examples is the one you’re affiliated with. The image shows it to be quite drab. I think the most successful one of the austere examples is the first, the chapel at Monte Cassino. Extremely simple without being modernist and hateful toward symbolism. It is very elegant. However, I think without the touch of art above the altar it would be less successful. (Please note that the last example is not showing up and so I cannot see it)

I do not believe and I will not accept that this argument is about ornate versus simple. That is simply not the issue at hand. I do not believe either is necessarily better than the other; I think both can be done well and both can be done very poorly. If ornate is done poorly, it becomes kitschy and sickening like too much chocolate cake. If simplicity is done poorly, it becomes bland, uninspiring and boring.

Additionally, I do not believe and I will not accept that this argument is about new versus old. Churches built in a modernist style usually are, in fact, quite simple (although not necessarily), but they are cold, antitraditional modernist structures nonetheless. Their simplicity, which is just one characteristic of the integrated whole, does not redeem the failure of the other aspects. Ornate does not equal old and simple does not equal new.

Both ornate and simple structures be successful or utter failures. If, in a specific iteration, ornate means kitsch, it fails. If, in a specific iteration, simple means modernist, it fails. Again, this has nothing whatsoever to do with ornate versus simple or old versus new.

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