2016 International Awards Program for Religious Art & Architecture

Volume 49, Issue 4 :: Michael J. Crosbie, Ph.D., FAIA

This year’s 28 award-winning projects were selected from a larger pool of entrants than the previous year: 135 in total were submitted, which might be an indication of the award program’s growing visibility and stature. Over the past few years winning projects have not only been published in Faith & Form and here on our website, but also have been picked up by such sites as Huffington Post, Religious News Service, and ArchDaily, drawing the attention of millions. This has not only increased the visibility of the fine work of these architects, artists, liturgical designers, and students, but has made the general public more aware of what is being accomplished in the realms of religious architecture and art.

2016 Jury

The 2016 Religious Art and Architecture Awards Jury, left to right: David Roccosalva (artist); Vernon Mays (architect); Albert Lindeke, FAIA (architect and jury chair); Rev. Kristen Richardson-Frick (clergy); Julio Bermudez (architect).

Reflecting on the entries as a whole, the five-member jury was impressed with range of work and the variety of responses to the continuously evolving ideas about how to create sacred environments, for every family of belief in the world. Of the 28 winning projects featured here, 13 (nearly half) were designed or created for sites outside of North America. This is a testament to the continuing global interest in spiritual/sacred places and spaces, even as some organized religions contract. It was encouraging to see a continued growth in submissions to the “Student Work” category; 22 projects were submitted (up from 17 the previous year) and a large number of winning projects were selected—a total of five—including one Honor Award.

The jury also observed that many of the submissions used natural light in creative ways, making it part of the sacred environment both in architecture and art works. While natural light has long been a way to convey a sense of immanence in religious art and architecture, the jury noted that it also contributes to sustainability and helps to reduce energy costs. Several jurors were impressed with how designers used an economy of means with simple, elegant materials to meet the needs of congregations. A reverence for natural materials was seen in many submissions, and in winning projects.

The 2017 awards program opens for submissions (at faithandformawards.com) on April 1, 2017.