As a realtor who specializes in modern/contemporary architecture I don’t have the luxury of working a smallish, distinct geographic area that most realtors enjoy. I cover a lot of ground throughout the Twin Cities because I’m more about the architectural style of the house than I am about “farming” a territory. Something that recently came to my attention in my travels were some very cool looking modern churches. So once I started looking for them as I drove, I was taken aback at how many there are and who some of the architects are that designed them.
St. John’s Abbey / Collegeville, MN
In December 1950, Abbot Baldwin Dworschak, OSB, newly elected sixth abbot of Saint John’s, made a bold and visionary decision resulting in what one art historian has called “a milestone in the evolution of the architecture of the Catholic Church in this country.” He contacted twelve prestigious architects among them Marcel Breuer, asking them to submit a comprehensive building design for the second century of Saint John’s.
As part of his specifications, Abbot Baldwin required a design for “building a church which will be truly an architectural monument to the service of God.” He explained, “The Benedictine tradition at its best challenges us to think boldly and to cast our ideals in forms which will be valid for centuries.”
Christ Lutheran Church / Minneapolis, MN
The worship building was designed by the firm Saarinen and Saarinen, a father and son partnership of Eliel Saarinen and Eero Saarinen, the project was Eliel Saarinen’s last completed building. It was dedicated in 1949, and was acknowledged as an architectural masterpiece from the day it opened. As an early, outstanding example of modern religious architecture in the United States, it was widely published in the architectural, popular, and religious press, and provided inspiration for countless modern churches that were to be built in the 1950s and 1960s.
St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church / St. Paul Park, MN.
Designed by Ralph Rapson, it was constructed in 1969. The building represents Ralph Rapson’s interpretation of the new liturgical guidelines set forth by the Second Vatican Council of 1962 – 1965. Following the International (Modern) design style which Ralph Rapson was known for, the building embraced these guidelines through the use of modern materials. Separating the exterior façade into three distinct layers (base, window and roof) the building emphasizes a solid base with a roof structure that appears to float. This was accomplished through the use of stucco, glu-lam beams and single pane glass windows. These materials carry into the interior of the building.
Redeemer Missionary Baptist Church / Minneapolis, MN
Built in 1910 as a Prairie School church in in the Lyndale neighborhood. The Prairie School architecture was uncommon for use in churches. This church, which has a flat roof and broad eaves, but lacks a bell tower and other traditional church features, was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois. It was designed by the firm of Purcell & Feick. The main portion of the church is organized around a cube-shaped auditorium with light provided by a wall of eastward-facing green-tinted windows. It has a narrower section with a deep balcony that extends to the south.
United Theological Seminary / New Brighton, MN
The architectural-award winning Bigelow Chapel is a delicate composition of floating planes of glass, frosted clerestory windows, precast stone walls and translucent curved wood panels that cast a warm glow and create a tranquil and inspirational environment. Skylights provide suffused light throughout the interior. Forty-two foot high twin towers contain five Deagan chimes made in the 1920s and 1930s. A meditation garden, stone-paved patio and grass courtyard adjoin the chapel. Built 2004 Joan Soranno HGA Architectural firm.