Jubilee Church
DDF 02 - 11 - 2010

Richard Meier’s Jubilee Church is an example of a modern church in a city, Rome, where intricate, ornate cathedrals are to be expected. In contrast to the typical elaborate styles of the cathedrals, Jubilee Church’s simplicity is a refreshing perspective on what an ideal church should be. The modern style, clean lines, and gentle curves of the building are pleasing to the eye while making a powerful architectural statement. But is it the statement that the architect intended to make? In the older cathedrals in Europe, the stories of the buildings are painstakingly carved, etched, and painted on the walls of the buildings. These narratives are intuitively clear to both members and visitors. There is little debate on which stories are being portrayed because many times Bible verse is included within the work itself. Even those unfamiliar with Christianity could begin to understand the stories narrated within the buildings. Jubilee church is on the opposite end of the spectrum when compared to these types of buildings. While the Jubilee church has a sense of peacefulness about it that not many churches have, it is clearly not as easily understood as the literal designs of its predecessors. After researching literature I obtained at the church, I have begun to better understand the meaning behind the design. The three arcs stand for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The entire building is supposed to represent a boat, more specifically the boat of Peter. While after several minutes of studying the building, I might have been able to guess the meanings, the explanation in the literature goes on to explain several other items of significance. Most of these items are impossible to understand without the additional written text. This begins to raise the question, is putting a “deeper” meaning in every design move worth implementing? Or does it make more sense to fully concentrate on the immediate experience of the building rather than hidden ideas? Personally, I prefer buildings to speak for themselves and not require additional text for complete understanding. The requirement of additional literature seems to take away from the simple nature of the building. Something simple should be easily understood; however, this is not the case for Jubilee Church. I was greatly impressed the building when visiting it. After doing more research and finding the hidden meanings that are impossible to understand while experiencing the space, however, I am slightly less impressed.

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