Monday, July 16, 2012

Some Jesuit architecture: old and new

The Jesuits have always been interested in architecture and new religious  buildings

Father Tommaso Blandino, Brother  Guiseppe Valeriano, Father François Derand and Brother Martellange are only some members of the Order without whom « Jesuit architecture » would not have spread in France, Italy, Germany, Poland and other areas in Europe during and after the Counter-Reformation. 

It was not only Churches and chapels which they designed and helped construct but colleges, seminaries, novitiates, residences and the other buildings necessary in the spread and consolidation of a religious  institution

Here are two of the drawings for the Jesuit Novitiate in Paris in the 1630s :

Father Etienne Martellange
Aspect contre le Novitial de Paris, 1634, 23 7.bre : Veüe des Environs du Noviciat de Paris, le 23 7.bre 1634
Drawing :Pencil and  Brown ink on paper with brown wash
38,9 x 54,3 cm

Father Etienne Martellange
Des fondations de l'Eglize // du novitial de Paris. 1631 : Fondations du Noviciat de Paris, en 1631
Pencil and brown ink drawing on paper
40,5 x 54,5 cm
Département Estampes et photographie, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris

Many other drawings for the Novitiate in Paris  are in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris and can be accessed here

On less precarious foundations than the Church for the novitiate in Paris, the Jesuits in Maryland have just had constructed  a brand new (and almost fully occupied) retirement and health-care facility which they call “New Colombière.” The design was not by the Jesuits unlike in days of old. As is usual these days it was outsourced this time  to the architectural firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, It cost more than 5 million dollars

Officially it is called the St. Claude la Colombiere Jesuit Community Residence.

It is set in a 14 acre bucolic site outside Baltimore

Here is a video celebrating the new project:

One father who was one of the first residents declared that he felt that he had moved  to “paradise.”
The centre of the new 66000 square feet complex is the chapel:

A central feature of the new chapel is the chapel`s tree canopy
It is a complex structure with a  delicate layering effect achieved with six tons of wood and steel It is meant to simulate the natural light effects  of a   natural tree canopy
The article linked to above says:
“While the non-traditional form of the chapel and even the tree canopy itself seems to have taken the Jesuit brothers by surprise, they appreciate how the presence of the canopy lends the chapel sanctuary a sense of sublime light and a state of repose appropriate to a place of worship.
Others of a more traditional cast may dispute this. 
For more images of the construction of the complex see Colombiere Community's Gallery Albums (49)