Saturday, June 14, 2008

You tell me what this is

Let me start out by giving you the name: Church of the Most Holy Trinity, but sometimes referred to as "Wotruba Church." It is located in Vienna, and was designed by famed twentieth century Austrian sculptor Fritz Wotruba.

Despite the fact that some of those "blocks" have some kind of aesthetic redemptive value, when I look at the image of Most Holy Trinity Church, I feel like I have to forgive someone.

As I stated in a previous post, I DO like modern architecture. Some of the most inventive, hypnotizing, and dynamic structures societies have erected fall under the "modern" or "post-modern" classification of architecture. For a sacred environment, I also have made no qualms about passionately preferring traditional edifices over the more progressive arrangements that characterize so many churches this day and age (especially in Europe).

MIT's Stata Center

For those of you who find secular avant-garde architecture appalling, please turn away immediately. The following images might be too disturbing.

Below is MIT'S Stata Center. Opened for occupancy in 2004, the center houses the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems, as well as the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.

For me, the Stata Center symbolizes a society within a society. The design implies that what takes place inside this structure is different than what takes place anywhere else, and that conventional thought is turned completely upside down within it. It has whimsical, structural allusions to fairytale cottages or to something you might see inside Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Unfortunately, in 2007 MIT sued Frank Gehry - the designer of the center - as well as the construction company who built it for supposed design and structural flaws.


Anonymous said...

Gehry's got lots of lawsuits, mostly for leaks, from what I understand. But when you constantly reinvent the wheel as he does, it is to be expected (rule of thumb: non-vertical walls will always leak).

"..when I look at the image of Most Holy Trinity Church, I feel like I have to forgive someone."

Fritz Wotruba's building is nice--if it were, say, the Fine Arts department building on a university campus somewhere. My guess is you want to forgive the priest who commissioned this job to someone who thought that Stonehenge was a good metaphor for a Catholic church!

It doesn't seem to be weathering very well, either.

God bless,

Tom in Vegas said...

Hi Georgette-

My first lesson indeed! Nice to know these things.

You are correct about Fritz's design and the possible misapplication. I do like the glass windows and cement block juxtaposition, but the amorphous and ambiguous design throws me for a loop. When you study the third image (the entrance of the church), there are sporadic instances of what might-have-been if the design had taken a different turn (or remained on the path of using larger sections of cement blocks).

Just a neophyte's opinion.

Take care:)

Shirley said...

The Church makes me think of a prison, and indeed the Tabernacle is imprisoned there! My first impression of the second building was that it had been hit by an earthquake, and my second impression was that of a child's construction set.
Go here
to see a beautiful Church of the Holy Trinity in Boston, which is under threat of being closed down.

Tom in Vegas said...


That is indeed heartbreaking (closure of the Boston church). But with all the millions they've dished out in the past few years, I'm not surprised.

From what I've read, the parishioners plan to appeal the decision.

Thom said...

I'm no architect, but I visually like both buildings. I'd love to see an interior photo of the church.

What are your thoughts on: ?

I really, really like it.

Though it's a bit disorienting after a few drinks.


Tom in Vegas said...


There are some definite structural similarities between the convention center (your link) and the Trinity Church, albeit subtle.

The Greater Columbus Convention Center does feature different structures with interesting designs, but I prefer the ones seen here:

paramedicgirl said...

Shirley, ditto to what you said. I, too, was thinking the Church looked like it was designed from a setup of building blocks that maybe the architect's child had been playing with. It does not draw the viewer towards God.

As for the earthquake comment, I'm still laughing over that one!

RJW said...

It kinda looks like legos (tm) from mismatched sets that buttons and sockets were gone.

Katie Alender said...

As I've said in the past, I do appreciate modern architecture--even in churches--but a church needs to be more than just a building. It needs to reach upwards, somehow.

Tracy said...

Hmmmm... I don't know yet, I'm going to need to think about it for awhile and look at it some more, very interesting....

Cathy_of_Alex said...

1) Looks like Stonehenge got pushed together.Not sure the pagan memory was what they were after or was it? :-) Unless, they are trying to make a statement about Christianity overtaking paganism via some kind of 70s Communist apartment building?

2) Agree with others-looks like an earthquake.

Design is sometimes design for it's own sake. This is not a good thing if it's part of a functioning building. It is useless if the architect fails to consider climate and time. Even Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings and homes leak-leak bad.

Sister Mary Martha said...

That second place looks like the box the first place must have come in.