Tag Archives: CONVOCATION CENTER

LIGHT AS A BUILDING MATERIAL: SACRED AND SYMBOLIC

October 23, 2020

Ando Church of Light, Ibaraki, Tokyo (photo from architectureassociate.blogspot.com)

In the design of religious buildings, whether a Christian church, Buddhist temple, or Jesuit convocation center (we’ve done all three), the element of light is one of the most critical design aspects. Whether natural or artificial, light can be a building material—elemental to sacred architecture.

Project and location unknown (photo by David Osta from Pixabay)

Throughout history, mere iconography provides an easy and explicit representation of religion, such as the cross (the Crucifixion), a lamb (Jesus Christ) or the triangle (Holy Trinity). But more abstractly, meaning both more subtly and powerfully, light can be used in religious structures to represent a higher power. We do not know what God looks like specifically, but suffice it to say, a beam of light breaking through the clouds is a close rendition for many. In addition to the dramatic presence of holy illumination, there are half a dozen other ways in which light can be used in architecture to symbolize a supreme being or various conceptions of God.

St. Moritz Church, Augsburg, Germany (photo by Hufton+Crow)

1. Flooding a church with an abundance of light, both natural sunlight and a well-designed lighting system achieves the three omni’s of God: omnipresent as in everywhere, omnipotent as in all-powerful, and omniscient as in all-knowing. The supremacy and influence blankets the visitor.

Saint Chapelle, Paris, France (photo by Stephanie LeBlanc)

2. A thousand years of stained glass—the exquisite use of colors and sparkle—provides the cathedral’s interior an elevated existence. One full of delight, full of spirit. Stained glass –and its associated pictures, stories, and technique—uplifts the human spirit.

left: Chapel of St. Ignatius, Seattle, Washington (photo by Paul Warchol and Steven Holl Architects); right: Notre-Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, Haute-Saône, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France (photo by Rory Hyde

3. From Holl’s Chapel of St. Ignatius to Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp, one finds a common design composition: the random patterning of window sizes and placement. The resulting play of light suggests a mystical and mysterious presence, implies the unexpected, and delivers an incomprehensible higher power.

Chapel in Villeaceron, Spain (photo by Hisao Suzuki)

4. At times, even the most modest wash of light raking across a barren concrete surface can imply the gentle hand of one’s God. Like the way faith is supposed to operate, it simply is what it is—what one wishes to believe.

Project and location unknown (photo source unknown)

5. Rays of light passing through rhythmic architecture recalls the structure behind beliefs and teachings. The expectedness of the repetition represents the foundation and sureness of religion, and the visual and experiential reverberation gives a feel of an infinite presence.

MIT Chapel, Cambridge, Massachusetts (photo by Flickr Creative Commons)

6. Light in sacred spaces have been applied in the most artistic ways, expressing the otherworldly plane of the Heavens. Whether the creative composition is solemn or spirited, light brings messages tangible and intangible, crafted and sacred.

Chapel for the Air Force Village, San Antonio, Texas, by Poon Design (rendering by Amaya)

DESIGNING FOR THE ATTAINMENT OF KNOWLEDGE

October 25, 2019

Harrington Learning Commons, Sobrato Technology Center & Orradre Library, Santa Clara University, California (photo by HHPA/Tim Griffith)

My previous article, Architecture for Learning, discussed the importance of good design for young learners ranging from preschool to high school. This essay exhibits our work with higher education, from university students to lifelong learners.

Investing in education can be one of life’s most rewarding investments, with both tangible and intangible returns. Whether it is a better job or a higher sense of the world, education is the foundation that civilizations are built upon. And the venue for learning is architecture.

Inha University Library, Inchon, Korea (model photo by HHPA/Foaad Farah)

Designing for the attainment of knowledge is to create experiences that stir, encourage and sustain learning. Yes, a building can teach. Akin to a textbook or software, the built environment can be a tool that demonstrates and instructs. And a learning environment is much more than the classroom. (All the buildings in this article are designed by me, in collaboration with my colleagues at HHPA or NBBJ.)

American University in Cairo Library, Egypt (photo by HHPA/Barry Iverson)

LIBRARY

A library is a traditional “old school” environment for learning. Sometimes full of books and sometimes not, the architecture of libraries houses information in whatever form that takes, hence new building names like “information services” or “learning commons”—no longer “library.”

Joseph A.W. Clayes Performing Arts Center, California State University Fullerton (photo by HHPA/Tim Griffith)

ARTS

Unfortunately, some schools marginalize the arts. A performing arts center not only offers arts to an engaged and eager audience, but teaches how the arts sustain creative progress.

Science and Technology Building, Pima Community College, Tucson, Arizona (photo by HHPA/Bill Timmerman)

CLASSROOM

This science and technology classroom building promotes STEM, but the structure also acts as a gateway into the campus of the community college.

Northwest Campus Housing, University of California Los Angeles (photo by HHPA/Michael Moran)

DORMITORY

A dormitory is more than a place to crash after a long day of classes. Student housing is the platform for the sharing of knowledge and of the day’s successes and failures.

University Center, University of the Pacific, Stockton, California (photo by HHPA/Foaad Farah)

STUDENT UNION

As a canvas for student life, the student union or university center comprises food services, retail and tech offerings, student organizations, social spaces, administration, and all the functions that fall under the umbrella of student activities. A student center is a microcosm and joyful collision of one’s existence.

Soka University Gym, Aliso Viejo (photo by HHPA)

RECREATION

Health and physical well-being are necessary aspects of education. The phrase “physical education” is not just about playing volleyball in a gym. How many philosophers and poets have expounded on strong mind and strong body?

Cintas Convocation Center, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio (photos by NBBJ/Xavier University)

What is a convocation center? The college’s sense of pride and community can be supported by a basketball arena, as well as by an assembly hall where the entire student body can convene and be called to order

“When the Cintas Center is finally finished, we will continue to look back on Anthony Poon’s work with the highest regard. It was a pleasure for us to work with Anthony.” – James E. Hoff, S.J., President, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio

© Poon Design Inc.