From Maybeck To Megachurches
by Douglas R. Hoffman
Now that we have turned the corner into the 21st century, surveying the evolution of religious architecture over the past hundred years seems fair game. Starting from 1900, what were the noticeable changes, and what were the common denominators that survived through the end of the century?
What was the impact of the modern movement in architecture on the designs for religious buildings? Can this evolution provide insight into religious architecture for the new millennium?
Just as surely as the 20th century experienced the incubation, growth, and maturity of "modern" architecture, that movement also had a profound influence on the designs for houses of worship. Throughout this past century notable architects (and many not-so-well-known architects) crafted significant new interpretations of sacred space.
These fresh interpretations of religious building design, the noteworthy milestones of the modernist movement, have become icons of their times. While there was a strong undercurrent of architectural traditionalism and revival of once-favored styles, the more identifiable trend of the 20th century has been the relentless push for contemporary iterations of religious space.
At the turn into the 20th century, a handful of American architects were seriously interested in a new style for the times: Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright in the midwest, Henry Hobson Richardson and Frank Furness to a lesser extent in the east, and Bernard Maybeck on the west coast.