2015 International Awards Program for Religious Art & Architecture

Volume 48, Issue 4 :: Michael J. Crosbie, Ph.D., FAIA

This year’s awards program was a landmark for the fact that 33 projects were selected for their outstanding quality—an unprecedented number. The sheer quantity of award-winning projects speaks to the overall quality of the submissions this year—nearly 130 projects were submitted from around the world.

The number of submissions in the realms of renovation and restoration continue to grow, as more faith communities renew and revive existing facilities. As congregations continue to respond to shrinking numbers, the amount of adaptive reuse, repurposing of space, renovation of existing sacred buildings, and potential development of open land held by congregations will only increase. Recognizing this trend, this year the awards program included a new entry category: “Adaptive Reuse/Repurpose” to celebrate design creativity, resourcefulness, and planning ingenuity. The new category attracted five submissions (not bad for the first year; nearly as many entrants as were made to the “Renovation” category) and one project was awarded. In the Architecture field, there were 44 entries total, but more than a quarter of them were either “Adaptive Reuse/Repurpose,” “Renovation,” or “Restoration.” The jury was pleased to see more “megachurch” entries. This genre has never been noted for its exceptional architecture, but in fact the jury selected one this year for high praise.

The “Unbuilt” and “Student Work” entries were up this year over last year’s entries, with a total of 20 entries in the former and 17 in the latter, making up nearly a third of all the submissions. The boost in “Unbuilt” submissions this year may be a portent of more projects in the pipeline on their way to realization in the next few years. The hefty share of “Student Work” entries this year may be evidence of the growing interest in the spiritual dimension of design in architecture studios. Anecdotally, it seems that more architecture programs are willing to entertain and discuss the spiritual in architecture, even at secular institutions. While this might seem like a radical shift in design studio content, it should not be forgotten that for millennia the greatest works of architecture, East and West, were sacred places. The 2015 awards issue contains some of the newest additions to that tradition.

The 2016 awards program opens for submissions (at faithandformawards.com) on April 1, 2016.

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