Secular Religion: Piano vs. Holl
Religion belongs to our times. The old distinction between divine eternity and secular temporality vanishes when religion transforms into politics and cult into spectacle. In the contempo-rary world, private faith has become public, and Church is confused with State in an amalgam that is censured as much by the defenders of the sacred mystery as by the champions of civilian reason. But today’s global gusto for spectacle makes the divine and the human pulsate together in the scenographic precincts of modern piety. A small Jesuit chapel in the Pacific and a large Franciscan church in the Adriatic illustrate the theatrical nature of the latest generation of sacred spaces.
Seattle is the city of Bill Gates, but also of Frank Black: the genial owner of Microsoft and the tormented star of the Millennium series make up the at once luminous and somber face of a turn of century marked by the coexistence of high technology and high superstition, the amiable magic of microelectronics and the ominous fascination of mystery. Technology seems to outmatch mystery at the Jesuit-run University of Seattle, and its rector perhaps meant to compensate for this by putting up a chapel on campus. After inviting several architects to lecture, Father Sullivan gave the commission to the one who had attracted the largest audience: Steven Holl, a young Seattle-born talent based in New York for whom this church is the first major work within the United States...[+]