Saturday, May 21, 2022

Traditional Vs. Modern Church Architecture | The Catholic Gentleman

Is a building just a shelter from the elements or do they mean something more are are spaces just containers for our activities or do they have the capacity to shape our souls and lift our gaze towards higher things why should a catholic man understand architecture why should he care .

Today we will be joined by a professional architect rafael morales and we'll dive into all these topics and more stay with us hey everyone really excited that you're here joining sam .

And myself john on this podcast we are excited to dive into the philosophy the theory the understanding of architecture if this is your first time listening to us know that we are on podcast players up the wazoo whichever one you'd like to listen to we're going to be on we're also on youtube .

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So diving right in we've got raphael here really excited i've known rafael for a few years been very blessed uh to learn from him and to just engage and and what it is that he does but a little bit about rafael before we dive into all the questions that uh .

Sam and i have for this professional architecture is that uh architect is that rafael was born in mexico he has a bachelor's of architecture and from the university of houston he's a licensed architect here in the state of texas he is also specializes in church .

And school architecture he's married with four kids an amazing man an amazing catholic gentleman and he also has his own podcast called beauty ever new so if you're interested in learning a little bit more about what he does he's got i think you're entering into .

Your third season um a really great podcast beauty ever knew so i guess just diving right in i was a nerd and i put up my um saint patrick st peter's um square there in the back yeah so we got this little sketch of saint peter's square .

Um but apart from that uh architecture is something that i've always admired but never um read a book about so you know i'd love to learn about all those things what about you sam yeah i've always been fascinated by architecture myself i .

Don't have an engineering bone in my body but but i just love the uh marriage of form and function that architecture represents and uh just the ability to create an experience through a space i've been in some really incredible buildings .

That just take your breath away when you walk in and you know yes i'm speaking of beautiful churches um where you can be outside on a busy street a car is honking you know people shouldering past you you know in kind of new york city or one of these busy chicago .

And then you just walk into this place and it's like the world changes around you um and that's an incredible experience it's like you walked into another dimension or something um and but i've also walked into some secular buildings that are also quite incredible um .

I think of the kalatrava art museum in milwaukee where i grew up in milwaukee and i walked in there and like wow like just the beauty of like symmetry and like flowing lines and yeah uh just kind of takes your breath away and again you're just kind of like surrounded by concrete sidewalks and .

Then all of a sudden you're just in this beautiful uh flowing space uh with light and and it's just just like again going to go into another dimension and it's it's incredible what a building can do so i'm excited for this yeah so raphael i guess the first question what got you into architecture .

Well it's a good place to start yeah exactly let's start at the beginning so i think that for me you know you mentioned i grew up in mexico and so growing up in mexico in in many ways it's very different than in the united states especially in the way that it is planned .

And in the way that it is built and i think what started it for me was really that there was my family had this tradition that you know we would take vacations on a regular basis and my dad was always interested in taking us to like the archaeological sites of mexico so .

We're talking you know the pyramids right that whether it was hawaiian pyramids or the asset pyramids well or the you know other civilizations that were uh in mexico we made those trips from an early age and those places leave an impression on .

You this idea that people thought it was so important to labor without modern technology and build these structures you know and that these structures had stood the test of time and then now here we were looking at them so there was one element .

You know that really left a deep impression on me and then couple that with the fact that mexico is full of beautiful colonial churches right i mean almost every town has a church at its center and pretty much every church is beautiful you know the part of mexico .

That i'm from is guanajuato which is in the center of mexico and it is a particularly beautiful place because of the fact that it's in rolling hills and so cities were built on these hills and you know the structure of these cities are kind of the old medieval .

Style which is curving roads that build up on each other and so in the city of guanajuato as you're walking down the main street to get to the center of town there is this really beautiful church but what i love about it is as you're walking .

You can't see the church because the street is curved and so then as you're walking along all of a sudden you turn the corner and boom there's this amazing beautiful church right in front of you and like sam was saying it takes your breath away i mean it's just like so unexpected to see .

You know how this city plays off of each other to create these moments that leave lasting memories you know and so that's really what began i would say planting the seed inside of my mind of what was possible and what architecture meant you know and really seeing all these really .

Beautiful churches and how towns were structured in mexico how the you know you had the town square and the church was right next to it the center of life revolved around those two things and almost every city to get anywhere you have to go through the center of town .

And so then you you have this the tradition that develops of making the sign of the cross every time you pass a church right well you do that several times a day if you're going anywhere and so you see how architecture has the power not only to take your breath away but to organize .

Your life to organize how you see things and how society itself is structured yeah that's so cool and i appreciate you mentioning that i was struck by a time in my life when i was over in cologne germany and if any of the listeners have been there .

When you get off the train station and you walk out you see one of the biggest cathedrals ever built you know on this on this god's good earth and i remember and likening to what you said sam it's one of the top five transcendental .

Experiences of my life when i saw that i just was overwhelmed and i couldn't quite compute what i was looking at it's so massive but so beautiful and glorious that i remember having just to stop and the rest of the group i was with just kept on walking and i just stood .

There for a good five minutes in awe and have no clue what happened around me um you know from that time so uh just that ability of beauty to to captivate us and to really grab the very essence of who we are so just funny you mentioned that john because uh .

We live in a world where the only thing we know how to do is make things really big like well we can't build a beautiful building very easily anymore because we just don't have the uh philosophical framework for that so we're just gonna make it really tall .

Like go for a mile or something you know like just just as tall as we can possibly build it but it's amazing that in our world where we have huge skyscrapers um a medieval church built hundreds and hundreds of years ago can still take your breath away .

And can you imagine what it would have done to a you know a medieval peasant who like was used to like uh a little hut or something and then just like walk to the center of town and they see this massive fortress just coming out of the earth and like .

It just would have been incredible that's your boy so raphael what um not only so you had that experience of architecture but then you decided to pursue it right so throughout your life um where did that prayer come in right so i know that one of the .

Tenants and sam you speak incredibly beautifully on this but of our latent qualities you know that god has given within us to to to create and co-produce and things like that and to be a catholic gentleman you don't have to be working on churches per se you know architecturally speaking in .

This context but there was something that happened with you and maybe it was churches that was like i want to start building those so when did that connection happen you know it's it's interesting this is something that i still think about to this day just like how did i get into churches because .

When i started architecture school and really when i was describing how my fascination fascination with architecture started i i loved the churches but that's not necessarily where i began i mean i remember going through school and just being really interested in how .

We make better cities you know how do we live better and how do we make buildings that you know that really kind of care for the person and not just have the person be like a piece of furniture inside of it and so that's where i began and i went going through school you know and .

Having to think about different problems one of them was urban planning you know how do you create a community that actually fosters togetherness and an actual community so that was an interesting question but as i went through school if you look back you begin to see that .

Anywhere i could get a church in i would you know so even if it was a project that didn't necessarily require a chapel i found a way to put a chapel in you know and again at the time i didn't i didn't think twice about it but what really at the end of the day .

Focused me was the fact that i graduated in 2010 and this was right after the big crash you know this is right after um just the the crash of 2008 there was a job fair that happened every year at her school and there was only two companies that came that year normally there's like 20 .

Or 25. wow both of them told me right away that they were not hiring so that was that was a great uh great way to start your career and so i went had good interviews but obviously they didn't call me back and so i just was trying to figure out what to do next .

But i got a call from the assistant dean at the university of houston saying that there was a company here locally that was looking for someone that was that that could do church architecture and it just so happened the reason he thought of me was that my senior thesis was to design what i called you know the new contemporary catholic church that .

Was my thesis and so he immediately thought of me and i went to that interview it went great and so i really felt like it was divine providence just saying like all of that all of those ideas that you uh have been thinking about for these years .

You can now put to work in this company so that's how i got started that actually leads me to a question um and and i'm sorry john if you're going to say no not at all i want to hear it so i'm interested in kind of the future of catholic architecture .

Because um you know following the kind of the revolution culturally not just in the church but culturally there was a emphasis um on kind of this minimalism this uh even like brutalism or just just strip everything away and like it was very iconoclastic yeah and um .

So then kind of the reaction to that in recent decades and i think it's amazing but we've kind of been throwing back to some of the baroque and neo-baroque and like even in some cases like gothic or romanesque and like that's awesome that's like to me that's amazing that we're like .

Rediscovering those roots however like at some point there has to be a transition to our own influence our own architecture if you will you know where we kind of move beyond the beautiful yes but um uh still kind of time-bound architectures of the past .

And we're so i'm interested you know knowing that that's your thesis i'm interested in your thoughts on like what does the contemporary catholic church look like and that doesn't look like a beige business center but also you know has some has some beauty to it but isn't necessarily a throwback to .

Baroque or romanesque or something like that yeah well that is a great question and one that i've spent a lot of time thinking about yeah i would say one that is not fully answered yet you know i think it's it's going to be a career-long pursuit you know but i do have a few .

Things to say about it so i think that what we sense in the church especially because of the last 40 years is that we lost something right like churches used to have a certain quality to them they used to have what i think we would call a sense of the sacred .

You would walk in and there would be no question that this is a church but it is a sacred and holy space yeah that's right and and just any person without a degree in anything would be able to recognize that sense of sacredness and then somewhere along the line in that 40-year period .

We have now come to a place where churches don't do that anymore they're not inspiring a lot of times they feel like any other building you know like am i in an airport terminal or am i at math you know there isn't a whole lot of of difference it seems so the question .

Is how do you recapture that sense of the sacred but at the same time take advantage of first of all modern innovations you know technology has progressed since they were building churches by hand you know stacking blocks on top of each other now you have steel you .

Have other things available to you so how do you how do you still keep that sense of the sacred but move architecture forward and what what i think is really important and i think the danger of just returning back to you know the traditional styles if you will .

The danger of it is you you run the danger of losing the culture you're no longer engaging the culture with architecture that captivates everyone because at its best catholic architecture not only impressed catholics it impressed everybody you know it .

Changed all of society and so the big danger that i think we run by simply going to the what is a safe haven because it is of traditional styles is that we won't be able to engage the culture in the way that we should so i think that's if if i were to frame .

The the kind of question and the task at hand that's how i would frame it yeah you know the question is what does that look like yeah exactly or what do you want it to look like i'd like to hear that too yeah yeah absolutely so the closest thing we have um that i think and not everyone would .

Agree and not everyone would also you know like what what i have to say but i think the closest thing we have is gaudi is anthony gaudi sagrada and his other he did some other liturgical work i mean there is an example of a cathedral that is still under construction it's not even a cathedral .

It's actually just a church that is under construction that is incredibly innovative way ahead of its time that has captivated the attention and the um you know just the the interest of people from across the spectrum not just catholics i mean people travel to .

Barcelona to see it even if you know they're atheists and so that in a way is the closest thing we have to a catholic architecture that is completely born out of prayer because if you read about gaudi and actually i just finished uh yeah a biography of his you read about him i mean he was a devout .

Catholic he not only saw that you should build churches in a catholic way he thought every building should be built in a catholic way wow if you look at his apartment buildings his industrial buildings there was always catholic symbolism and overtones that once again were it .

Were about shaping the person and so i think as far as a contemporary example of a catholic architecture that would be gaudi but here's the thing guys gaudi was early 1900s so what you know so what's next you know what i mean yeah and so .

Yeah that's the challenge that's the challenges how do you build on that one more thing i'll say yeah please this is really important i think what people really miss out on is that in order to create a new catholic architecture it has to build on the patrimony of the .

Church as it exists you're not going to be able to create something out of a vacuum because i think that if you do that's how you end up with buildings that don't feel like a church that's how you end up with airport terminals you have to start .

From the really solid foundation of the gothic styles and the romanesque and everything else and then evolve it naturally you know you have pope benedict talk about the organic development of the liturgy yeah well the architectural development of the church has to be the same it has to be an .

Organic development that happens naturally that isn't forced that isn't you know just stuck in there but that really grows you know like a plant would and so that's that's where we're at i mean that's what we're trying to to figure out right now is how do you .

Begin to build on the really solid foundation that is the history of the catholic church yeah i think that's exciting and i'd like to ask you uh for myself but also for many of our listeners who've never really reflected on this .

So i know exactly what you're saying i used to go to a church in minnesota when i was growing up uh that the choir was like a part of the altar and it was just kind of like there was no appropriate uh symmetry there's no appropriate divide between you know the sacred and what we were able to .

Participate in and so i'm curious what would you say are the kind of fundamentals or the essence you know that should be maintained within catholic architecture uh that that shouldn't be lost or shouldn't be played with if there is any .

I'd love to hear your thoughts on that yep absolutely the short answer is there definitely is what i would say a catholic way of building a church yeah and that doesn't mean that they all look the same doesn't mean there's one style that is .

Favored over another it just means like you said there are certain qualities that a catholic church has that you should be able to recognize and that you should be able to identify whenever you go into a church and so just to throw some out i mean i .

Think that the first thing and i think sam actually mentioned it early on was when you enter a church you really should feel like you're entering a different world and that's because you're entering heaven you're entering truly you know a sign of heaven a church is a sign of heaven .

And so if when you enter a church you don't feel like you're leaving the world behind entering into a kind of a heavenly reality then the church didn't do its job you know there's something lacking in that church so i would say that's a quality that .

A catholic church has to have the other is and this begins to build on some of the traditional aspects and the reason for example that churches tend to be long and they tend to be tall is based on the fact that over time there was a tradition that was developed .

In that those proportions created really beautiful spaces that again reinforce the idea that you are entering the heavenly jerusalem because that's another symbol of of the church and also of the church building is the heavenly jerusalem so when you .

Walk into a church and you see columns on the side of the church what people need to begin to think about is what do those columns represent and in a lot of cases those columns represent the 12 apostles a lot of times you see you know depending on the size of the church six columns on either side but they .

Represent the apostles as the foundation of the church that is that everything else is then built on so a linear knave a tall vertical space white vertical because that turns our eyes towards heaven when you enter the cologne cathedral that's probably what you did you looked up your eyes are just .

That's right your eyes are drawn up they're drawn towards the heavens and then a lot of times you see windows up high that then let light in so what does all that remind us of that reminds us of our of the heavenly reality that is awaiting us so those are a .

Couple other qualities that you would see what's what what else you will see an altar yeah and that altar is substantial because the altar is a symbol for christ and so if christ is a cornerstone and what everything is built on .

It needs to be substantial it needs to be identifiable it needs to be solid it's not going anywhere you can almost you know i was actually visiting a church up in minnesota it was a church built in the early 1900s i don't know if you guys knew this but like in the old way of building churches .

There are certain rubrics you have to follow but unfortunately we have no no longer observed some of them but one of them was that the altar itself had to bear on the ground like it couldn't it couldn't uh be a second floor and then have air underneath it so this church has the parish hall in .

The first floor so what they did is they built this giant column that connected the altar to the ground wow they could you know meet that requirement and you might think to yourself like why is that important why is it .

Important to do that and the answer is because when you go down there and you visually see that connection you know what's happening you know that the entire church is built on the altar and everything else around it is is just you know kind of building up .

The centrality and importance of that altar oh praise god that's incredible yeah i love that attention to detail there's a lot of details where in a well-designed space you're not necessarily consciously thinking about but at the level of experience you feel them .

And you can't necessarily put your finger on why do i feel like this space is different but you feel it um which is another kind of leads to my next question kind of building off of what john asked but just you know your architectural of crafting a space .

Um you know you have things like light um or sound even like is there an echo i don't know because sometimes when there's an echo people are hushed just automatically you know things like the color of the surfaces and the materials and things like that .

So as you're thinking about like crafting a sacred space what are some of the things that go through your mind of the elements that you want to combine to create that sense of sacredness or otherness like this is not this is not a business center this is not an airport terminal this .

Is a you've entered a heavenly realm here like what attributes uh would you mix and match absolutely um so there's an architect that practiced in the early 1900s his name was ralph adam kram and he was a big proponent of the gothic revival kind of at the beginning at the turn of the century .

Honestly if you want to learn about architecture he's a good place to start oh good but in reality the turn of the century kind of going from you know obviously beginning of 1900s late 1800s early 1900s was an amazing time for architecture because i feel like that is when they .

Were trying to take that next step that we're talking about of how do we use this new technology that we're beginning to experiment with steel and kind of more more lightweight structures but still create these really beautiful spaces they hadn't yet lost .

The kind of sense of beauty and so there's some really interesting architecture that comes out of that time period and then unfortunately the kind of modernist movement of the what they called the machine age aesthetic took over in which basically all ornament was removed and so what happened is .

That really interesting train of thought that was starting in the beginning of the 1900s just stopped just kind of ended and i think that you know going back to the earlier question part of what we need to do is recover that that that train of thought and see where it takes us .

But back to the question about materials so he talks about cram you know just talks about how ultimately the church as it as it was in a lot of medieval villages was the pinnacle of all architecture in that town and so for example he talks about how there was no need for the opera .

There was no need for museums you know there was no need for gathering halls because the church was all of that and so people would gather the best that they had to offer and bring it to the church so another interesting thing he talks about is that a church is never finished so you begin a church .

You start the reconstruction but you're always adding on to it you're always trying to make it better and to bring the best that you have so as far as materials i would say that there should be a privilege given to natural materials by natural materials was because .

God created the world yeah and we are incarnational beings like you because of the incarnation of christ we are incarnate beings we are sacramental beings that see the world through physical matter and so seeing a church and being having it be built out of natural materials .

Once again shows us what potential these natural things that god gave us has yeah one way to think about it is that a stone does not meet its full potential until it's used for a church or a flower never reaches its full potential .

Until it adorns an altar privileging natural materials reinforces the world view that you know that god gave us which is he gave us a creation and it is good and it is there to show us god you know all of creation reveals god and so the more we can use god's own .

Creation and elevate it to the worship of god the better and more beautiful a building will be that just gave me chills because i realized in a moment why i find carpet so irritating and tricky like you know you go and see marble .

Floors versus like carpet there's just something wrong there you know absolutely yes definitely and by the way sam also i want to mention this because it's an important point what should a church sound like you know yeah i think that a church should be echoing and why .

Because there's something about the fact that when you walk into a really echoey church well i'll tell a quick story here in houston there's a chapel in the chapel the same basil and the chapel saint basil is was built by a modernist and it uh you know people have different .

Opinions about it i happen to like it but i'll tell you why i like it because first the quality of light is really great in there like stellar and it was probably by accident because he wasn't meaning to do that but they use this really thick marble on the floor .

It's a very small space it's a small university chapel when you walk into that place and i don't know if you've been there john but you open the door and as soon as you take a step that hold that step echoes in the entire room yes so what do you do what do you do you get really quiet yeah .

Because you feel like every step is making a really big big impact on the space so in that sense that really enhances the sense of the sacred because you know it's kind of like the idea of this is hollowed ground you know like every step i take is like echoing in this .

In this space so that is a really effective thing about that chapel and again i'm not sure if they meant to do that but the the uh effect that is also um positive about it is when you hear gregorian chant in that space it sounds like you're in a big cathedral because of the way that the echo just .

Works really well so yeah a church should have should make you feel once again through its various qualities that this is hollowed ground this is a church you're entering a sacred space you you tapped on you know one of my loves obviously as a musician so as a professional trumpet player the .

More echo in the church the better the more the more joy-filled it was and for many reasons right so if you listen to you know russian uh orthodox choirs you know and you can hear them they stop singing and you hear the echo for 15 seconds afterwards right all lifting up the .

Overtones are all starting to ring and the the beauty of that is there's not any one individual that stands out but they can sing truly in union um you know for their their songs lifted up to for the glory of god and i remember you reminded me i was at st patrick's cathedral .

In uh not in new york but the one in downtown fort worth and the or the former organist that used to be the head there is an incredible organist and every time we go there there was there's a little isle of of um carpet at least there used to be it's been years since i've been there .

And there was popcorn on the ceiling and it's a beautiful cathedral but there's these popcorn ceilings and every single time we played we just talked about what that's doing to the space negatively and how that's affecting things negatively and he was creating new risers .

In the choir loft just to try and combat some of these you know rectoration um you know things that had had developed um over the years so i appreciate you mentioning that and and and and the mass and the glory of the mass shouldn't be about any one individual and i think .

That as musicians who understand that it makes it all the more enjoyable to play in a place like that because when i go to um a new church that has that carpet it's like feels like every single note that i play is going to overcome and be heard by all and it adds this you know um kind of .

Like soloistic nature on the musician which is very antithetical to um you know what we should be working to achieve within the mass so absolutely yeah and i would just add that you know a catholic church has a certain sound to it as well that's another .

Quality of what makes a catholic church is you're supposed to be hearing the choirs of heaven when you go to church right like when you go to a beautiful church that has a good music program you almost feel like again you get the goosebumps going because .

It's beautiful like you know the the way the sound carries the way the sound echoes all adds to this idea that the masses is much more than just the gathering of people it's the holy sacrifice of the mass the you know the choirs of angels and saints singing with us in worship to .

God i mean that's when you go to church you should not only think that you should not only know that you should hear that you should see that you should feel that you know and i think that when architecture is at its best it does all of that and you don't even necessarily like .

Again consciously aware of it you just you feel it you just know that's right um yeah i just have a quick question i want to just switching gears just a little bit about kind of the philosophy that informs this because um you know you look at like a medieval .

Cathedral like chart um just mind-blowing details mathematical precision and like everything means something nothing was random i also have another fascinating book um called the the plan of saint gaul they found the cathedral was never built but it was .

Architectural plans for medieval cathedral i think it was like in the 1200s or something like 10 hundreds i don't know long time ago almost a thousand years ago and but everything was insanely meaningful like the i can't remember the proportions but they the proportions .

Were like uh meant to reflect like um the 40 days in the wilderness or something like that and culminating in like the sanctuary area or something like that so like even like the width of the building and the length of the building all meant something only the architects .

Would know that but still like they didn't leave anything to chance nothing was random you know every rose window everything was mathematically meaningful and significant they saw a meaning in every number you know everything was just loaded with meaning because they saw a harmony in .

The whole cosmos and they were trying to reflect that well what is like the modern um philosophy of architecture like where did it go wrong like where do we go from that to the back of the head yeah like walmart um you know fluorescent lights and you know tile .

Floors and like you know and just or even in our more you know artistic buildings even where they're just this brutalist like you know there's hallways that go nowhere and staircases that lead nowhere and like you know just like a sheer celebration of ugliness .

Like how did we get to that point it's not even a celebration it's just absurdity it's absurdity it is yeah well so it's that's a a very deep question but i'll do my best to try to you know give a paint a picture of what may have happened so one thing i wanted to say because i think it's it's kind of funny .

But also true you know how aquinas said that grace built builds on nature yeah well the medievals actually did that i mean that's what they thought they were doing and that's what they intended to do when they built their cathedrals they intended to perfect nature you know so nature brings it to a point and then .

By they're building the cathedrals they perfect nature so aquinas's idea is more than just a theological or philosophical thing it actually applies to the real cathedrals that were built in the middle ages but where did we go wrong well i think what happened and honestly you .

Know people will pinpoint different uh times for this but i'm to start with the enlightenment because that's when they began to circulate the idea that it was enough to hold something in your mind and that what happened outside of it was almost irrelevant you know and so i'm .

Gonna put this in architectural terms you know how pete i'm sure you've heard this because i've heard it many times why did they have stained glass windows in the gothic cathedrals and what do people say well because everyone was illiterate and therefore they needed these these windows so that they could know a .

Little bit of what was going on yeah right that's what people say okay well if you accept that as true then as a population becomes more literate you don't need stained glass windows anymore right you don't need carvings you don't need beautiful murals .

Because you know how to read if that's all you need then we can begin to strip away some of these things so there was that's one kind of stream of thought that you can see how the idea that your mind was enough for you to educate yourself that you could then begin to make arguments for .

Removing all of what you would you might call instructional uh you know decoration so that's one stream of thought the other was that as the industrial revolution develops you have the notion that architecture should reflect this change in society we see society .

Becoming more and more mechanized more and more based on the industrial machine right and so you have architects in the late 1800s early 1900s beginning to explore the idea that architecture should reflect what i mentioned earlier .

The machine age aesthetic and so they begin to look at ocean liners they begin to look at automobiles airplanes as the inspiration for buildings and they begin to conceive of buildings not as these places where you have deep memory and where you worship and live life but instead you have an .

Architect by the name of le corbusier who is a french architect very influential in the modernist movement he calls a house a machine for living in well think about what how that changes your conception of a building if a house is a machine for living in then yeah it's streamlined you remove .

All decoration it's it reflects the machine age aesthetic so it's made out of steel and glass you do have some innovations that are developed in that time period like for example you know for for most of history the way buildings were built .

Load-bearing masonry you stack stones on top of each other and then you put a roof on it for the first time steel and concrete allow you to have the structure be completely separate from the walls and so that opens up again the ability to have .

Churches that are made out of all glass you know or mostly glass you have also just they fall in love with the idea of concrete so you see a lot of concrete again reinforcing the machine age aesthetic so add on to that the world especially you know after the world wars begins to take on .

A kind of international outlook right where the whole world's trying to come together after these horrific wars and some of them saw traditional architecture as almost being part of the culprit of what happened representing the past how do we start fresh start anew and so .

You have the development of something called the international style which the idea being all buildings will look the same across the world so now regional differences regional materials what made architecture interesting and human .

Begins to be stripped away in favor of these grand ideas oh wow going back to le corbusier for a minute his idea of a city just to give you a you know kind of an idea was uh he wanted to level paris completely demolish it and put back in its place um just a series of really tall towers .

That are spaced miles apart with just gardens in between just like forest in between and you would get around exclusively by automobile and so that was like the conception of a future city that these guys were pushing so that's what lays the foundation for what happens next .

You have you know some capitalist horses at work some people that are just trying to you know make money nothing wrong with that but they see in the in the in the modernist style hey look we can just build boxes and people will buy it you know and so that's operate that's right and ultimately what i would .

Say and i'll i'll say this as a way to kind of maybe you know uh start a rally cry here yeah it happened because we allowed it to happen you know we we we chose to purchase this architecture architecture doesn't just pop up on its own people have to .

Purchase it they have to be willing to do a building in a certain style in a certain way but just to kind of answer your question that is the foundation that that is that allows churches to look like you know barnes yeah hold on it all just moves forward .

Into the rest of our lives yeah you brought up that um capitalist mentality which is uh profit first and what can be most efficient what can be quickest and and so i had another thought but your last comment right there very provocative of we let it happen .

How do we as a culture or we as an individual or me even as a father move in this direction in an appropriate direction of appreciation for architecture for my family and for our society what what thoughts because i think like myself i wouldn't even know quite .

Where to begin okay so buy an older house you know or only shop in you know a building that was built 100 years ago no that's not going to work so how do we um how do we start building up this culture of understanding uh beauty in the architecture and how it .

Can better our lives and and better humanity great question so i think the way that we do it is the same way that we approach other cultural and and you know just important milestones in our life so for example we i'm sure the three of us we try our .

Best to try to curate the books our kids read right we try to introduce to them beautiful books books that we know are going to be uplifting that form them in the right way um we do the same probably with music especially you john i'm sure you are particular about what kind of music .

You know you kind of expose your kids to but there's already a built-in desire to pass on beauty to our kids and for them to be able to recognize it right that's an important thing that i think as parents and as fathers we try our best to do that so building on that what i would say is the way you begin to turn the tide is we .

Need to become taste makers again we have to set what what the standard is you know like if we seed the ground and we say like oh look we'll just keep building you know the same churches that we like over and over again and not engaging the culture and not going out and saying like you know this kind of .

Building this way of building is not just good for us as catholics it's good for everyone it's it's a human way of building not just you know a machine way of building so if we begin to think of it as a you know going back to cram he talks about how .

Architecture is a symptom of the health of a society and so if we look at our society our society today you can begin to see many of the ills of society are represented in its architecture if you want to change that architecture we need to .

Also change society and so i think that many of the efforts that we already put in as fathers are trying to educate our children begin to turn the tide on architecture naturally but how do we do it in a more pointed way well the way i what i would say is do .

What my dad did you know take us on vacations show us what a beautiful building looks like like show your kids look here's a beautiful cathedral let's experience it and and and again i think you know sam was was hitting on a point that i think is really important .

It doesn't even need to be overt you don't need to sit there and explain to them why this building is beautiful we are built that way you know when you walk into a beautiful church you don't need a thesis paper explaining why it's beautiful in fact i think that's why ultimately the modernist style will fail .

Is because most of the time those modernist buildings do require you to read a really long thesis to it to understand why in the world that would build something like that yeah it's a math experiment that's right a beautiful church needs no explanation .

So i would say just take your kids to beautiful buildings when you go on vacation pick a beautiful building you know like look through the city where you're going and identify maybe a couple of buildings where you can visit and go see them you know like begin to cultivating your kids .

An awareness of what is a beautiful building and an awareness of what is not because that's important as well awesome no i think that's a great reminder and a great point for each of us fathers when we're taking our kids out to be intentional about that not just .

Letting it happen but but making it a um kind of a point or a centerpiece of of our um experience with our families and i think that's that's great my mind's just going in many different directions so i appreciate that i'll add one more thing .

Just so that you know people who may not be familiar with the way that the there's just the building process works so there's three ingredients to a good building a beautiful building so yes you have to have a good architect no question right you have to have a garage second .

You have to have a good builder and a proportional budget a budget that would cover the cost of the building but third you have to have a good client and i think sometimes people don't realize how important that is you don't get a great building unless you have all three ingredients .

So what i would challenge everyone is you may not directly be part of a building process but a lot of times especially in our parishes there's committees that are formed that make the decisions on what churches will look like well you need to you know you need to cultivate .

Your knowledge of architecture and of beauty and then go get on that committee that's because those committees really do make choices so how do we turn the tide is we have to begin to participate in the architectural conversation of our parishes and then eventually of our society of our culture i love it .

Yeah that's awesome i actually have one last question um because it's not every day i get to talk to an architect um but i love what you're saying about like starting with the churches yes but also rate kind of radiating out from that .

To society at large and kind of recovering this human way of building so i want to talk about just a second about secular buildings is there something wrong with me because i love a gothic cathedral but i also love frank lloyd wright and even some like modernist like zaha hadid you know where .

They're just these flowing lines and glass and light and it's all just like whoa you know um but is there something wrong with me like for appreciating both is there also a sense in which there is a place for you know with like you've mentioned .

Multiple times these new materials that we have that maybe didn't exist before and we can do things with flowing lines and shapes and even glass cut glass you know that we weren't able to do before is there a place for that in your in your kind of conception of architecture .

Um and also like uh kind of thinking outside the church for a minute like what might a more human architecture look like in a city or in an office building or in these places that aren't necessarily sacred but they still are places that we live in every day so i guess that's kind of a twofold .

Question but that's a great question is there something wrong with you i don't think so because there would be something wrong with me too i mean clearly i think there are you can point to many examples of where there you know there was something truly .

Remarkably remarkable achieved by what you would call a modern architect right like you mentioned the museum in milwaukee uh you mentioned sahara hadid who's obviously she was one of the most innovative architects i think of recent recent times so clearly like there are many .

Places where you go and and it is really um maybe not quite take your breath away like a church would but you're inspired by it i mean it is the way light enters the space and the way that they use materials but i mean i think that there there is definitely a place for it um .

I think that you know music you see museums a lot of times being a perfect place we're kind of a more experimental architecture that you know doesn't uh necessarily adhere to more traditional ways of building but when it comes to the city i i think that .

We have to be more more intentional about how we do it and we have to do it in a way that really focus on focuses on the human person and i would even add that focus is on the dignity of the human person that comes from god because i think that's what's been missing i think that our world would .

Claim to be very concerned with humanism you know like humanist ideas for sure the problem is their conception of human doesn't necessarily carry the idea that we were made in the image and likeness of god i think that's an ingredient that is missing so we look at our cities .

Crisscrossed by giant highways that yes get us around but look how it divides the city look how sometimes on one side of the city it's very bad part of town and on the other and the other side of the highway excuse me it's a very nice part of town so that .

Sometimes the way that we conceived of our cities as being very dominated by the automobile has caused you know pretty bad effects as far as community building and as far as just the human scale of the city and so while i would say there is definitely .

Places for let's say the frank gehry's of the world i don't know people know frank gary but you know he does the titanium steel wavy buildings you know like he did the walt disney concert hall i think that's a perfect place for that kind of architecture you know and it kind of reflects it but .

It definitely wouldn't be that if you took that and tried to make a church with it it wouldn't fit you know yeah if you try to make a house with it i don't think it would fit you know like you need something that feels more human scale that where you .

Can see the order that it has to it you know like aquinas would talk about how something is beautiful when you're able to see like it's it's meaning you know when you're able to discern the meaning of that object and so i think that it's important .

For a house to look like a house you know for a church to look like a church but again i do think there is place for experimentation i would say you know in museums especially or concert halls things like that that don't necessarily have these human scale requirements like a house does or a church does .

Yeah that's great well so i could just we could just keep on talking i think we're coming up in an hour here but uh praise god so raphael i know one way that people i imagine a good majority of of listeners um don't have a solid knowledge of architecture they probably can't tell .

You that st peter's is you know baroque you know and uh um and in its structure one way that they could i know one way they could better understand these things is go to your podcast beauty avenue and i'll put that in the description i'll put that in the show notes so that people can click over .

There but what else can catholic gentlemen do to better appreciate better understand and therefore better appreciate um architecture what i would say is number one way is just go visit buildings i mean even even for me like .

People ask me how how can i become a better designer just go visit buildings like there's something there's something about just seeing space that changes the mind that really shapes and forms you so there's nothing better than that i .

Would say more than looking at books more than looking at pictures on the internet just go look at beautiful buildings around you or in places you visit i'm a big proponent of that outside of that i'm going to throw out a few names that if you can kind of study up on .

I think you'll get a good glimpse at architecture so i will give uh three architect names and then three buildings that maybe people should look at for you know for a good kind of just general knowledge about architecture so starting with the architects i think i mentioned some of them already .

But um anthony gaudi he's a catholic architect in fact i think his cause for canonization was was opened so you should know as a catholic gentleman about gaudi in fact i would recommend the biography but the other i also mentioned is ralph .

Adams cram so he again was a turn-of-the-century gothic revivalist architect i think he had very important ideas about how we should think about architecture and let's see the third i would say is brunelleschi going a little bit back in time .

To the renaissance era so bruneski fascinating character he is best known for building the duomo in the cathedral and the interesting thing about him is it was the first time since antiquity that they had built anything remotely that big as far as the dope .

And so he had to literally invent the technology to make it work and so he's a fascinating character also uh you know renaissance man was a sculptor mathematician he also developed you know concept of perspective that is used in art even to this day so there's a really good biography on .

Him called brunelleschi's dome which is just a fascinating story about how he built the dome so that would be a recommendation definitely get to know brunelleschi awesome as far as buildings just throw them out real quick you should know what the pantheon is in rome .

You should know notre dame and sam i would throw sharks as well shark's cathedral in france as well as premier examples of gothic architecture i would say saint georgia majori for uh renaissance era architecture and then sagrada familia bhagavi as a more contemporary .

Contemporary example of what a church is amazing i'll put all of those in the show notes as well so i know a lot of listeners jotting things down uh like i want to do but i'll put them in the the notes so you can go there and then click on those and .

Probably bounce off to amazon and purchase so uh rafael what an amazing time we could keep on talking i'm so grateful for you being here so thank you so much anything else you want to share with the listeners one more thing one more thing so i want to take us back to the .

Era before kogan yeah seems so long ago so april 15 2019 what happened on april 15 2019 was the notre dame fire yeah and i i mean i remember it very clearly because i've never been to notre dame and so i felt this sense of loss that i was never .

Going to get to see it as it was you know and i think that a lot of people felt that sense of loss and it was amazing to see how a building which means an inanimate object was causing such such a panic across the world how many people cared about this building and why did .

They care it wasn't just because it was history or because you know it had been built a long time ago by these people or because it was innovative at the time it's because of what it represented it represented civilization it represented france it .

Represented you know the best that the catholic church has to offer and people were seeing it crumbling before their eyes so what i would the challenge for all of us you know me as me as a designer but everyone else is as you know as clients and as committee .

Members hopefully in the future is how do we build more buildings like that that if we were to lose them we would mourn over them because of how much it means to us and because of how much is built up in it you know think about this .

For you know these cathedrals for 500 years people got up in the morning and worked on them non-stop can you imagine us doing anything for 500 years so there's something there you know there's something about that building and that's what we're trying to .

Recapture that's what we're trying to you know build up in our in our societies and with our children with our work we're trying to build up buildings that people will just love and that will represent everything that is best in humanity ah praise god chills yeah .

Well thank you yeah thanks for your sharing with us your intellect your uh your passion you know uh and your and your expertise you know i'm my pleasure i'm grateful so sam as we end every episode with the reminder to all of our uh catholic gentlemen watching .

Be a man be a saint thanks for tuning in you


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