The Architecture of Prayer

An international survey of the contemporary church and its architecture.

On exhibit at the Calvin Center Art Gallery of Calvin University

Sparano + Mooney Architecture and our community of designers and craftspeople not only create bespoke mountain-modern homes in alpine settings, nor do we focus solely on museum, theatre, civic, resort or recreation architecture in our Salt Lake City and Los Angeles architecture offices. Indeed, for the majority of our collective careers we have also delighted in the typology of worship architecture and have worked collaboratively with many worship clients, parishes, and parishioners to plan and design their new sacred spaces. It is therefore that we are thrilled to be part of The Center Art Gallery‘s exhibition titled “The Architecture of Prayer”, an international survey of the contemporary church and its architecture taking place February 6 – April 7, 2023 at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Installation view of “The Architecture of Prayer” exhibition, featuring the St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church + Day Chapel project by Sparano + Mooney Architecture.

Curated by New York-based architect Amanda Iglesias, the exhibition showcases drawings and travel photography of historic church buildings in dialogue with new projects built between 1999 and the present, contributed by over 40 global architecture firms. Collectively, it represents a selection of the most thoughtful liturgical architecture of the 21st century, contributed by internationally-recognized practices and local firms deeply embedded in their communities. The show will include work by Sparano + Mooney Architecture, Adjaye Associates, Olson Kundig, Shigeru Ban Architects, Mario Botta Architetti, Studios Architecture and Tatiana Bilbao Estudio, among dozens more.

Sparano + Mooney Architecture’s featured project is St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church + Day Chapel, located in West Jordan, Utah. The program for the space includes a sanctuary with seating for 800, indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, church offices and a chapel for daily worship. The formal organization of the main worship space is based on two offset ellipses. The poché space between the ellipses creates a liturgical function zone housing the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, a reconciliation room, sacristy and prayer niches for statuary and religious art. The church’s elliptical form was conceived of as a true gathering geometry without corners, facilitating active participation from the community that will congregate there.

Light is brought into the sanctuary through a sandblasted, glazed band forming the base of the building, and through a large north-facing aperture (lantern) over the altar area. The upper portion of the ellipse contains eleven clerestory windows each relating in form, location and/or color to the twelve apostles. The twelfth opening is a skylight aperture over the baptismal font. The windows are all of colored, glazed panels, an affordable alternative and abstracted expression of traditional stained glass.

The firm’s iconic design for St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church + Day Chapel is one of the signature worship spaces showcased in the exhibition. For more information about the exhibition, please visit the exhibition page on Calvin University’s website and read the Curator’s Statement.

Calvin Center Art Gallery

Our history

The original Center Art Gallery first opened in 1974, on the lower level of the William Spoelhof University Center. For the next 37 years the gallery hosted over 300 exhibitions and nearly 300,000 visitors. In 2010, the Center Art Gallery moved into its new home at the Covenant Fine Arts Center, where it boasts over 3,800 square feet of exhibition space.

Our mission

  1. To provide continued support for the artists of the Calvin community including students, faculty, and alumni by giving opportunity to exhibit and discuss their work.
  2. To provide our art students and the University and civic communities the educational opportunity to view the aesthetic richness of other cultures in the context of our liberal arts tradition.
  3. To provide the Calvin community with an opportunity to view and dialogue with challenging art objects, artists, and ideas from a cross-section of contemporary culture, encouraging thoughtful evaluation rather than blind acceptance or rejection of our contemporaries active in the arts.
  4. To provide the Calvin community with an opportunity to view the works produced by Christians involved in the arts and thus strengthen the ties between those of similar and different Christian traditions.

Related links

More from Calvin Center Art Gallery: 2023 Senior Show