Church of the Holy Spirit in New Jersey looks nothing like a conventional church.

A Proposed New Jersey Church Looks Nothing Like a Traditional House of Worship

A Proposed New Jersey Church Looks Nothing Like a Traditional House of Worship

The Eye
Slate’s design blog.
Jan. 25 2016 1:10 PM

A Proposed New Jersey Church Looks Nothing Like a Traditional House of Worship

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Church of the Holy Spirit is a $28 million, 80,000 square-foot proposal for a house of worship in Englewood, New Jersey, from Urban Office Architecture.

Urban Office Architecture

New York City–based Urban Office Architecture has created a proposal for the Church of the Holy Spirit in Englewood, New Jersey, that looks more like a hip office building than a house of worship.

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Urban Office Architecture

Principal architect Carlo Enzo told me in an email that the congregation asked Urban Office Architecture to create a concept for a new location. “The initial idea was to explore opportunities in the ways in which people can engage spirituality,” he said. The $28 million, 80,000-square-foot proposal is currently seeking funding.

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Urban Office Architecture

The proposed design, which would be made with contemporary materials such as concrete and glass, eschews ecclesiastical archetypes in favor of contemporary features, including a deconstructed central gathering space with a discreet white neon-lit cross on the wall. An informal configuration of benches takes the place of an altar and strict rows of pews.

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Urban Office Architecture

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Urban Office Architecture

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Urban Office Architecture

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Amenities include gallery and museum space to attract visitors to the building on days without religious services. The ground-level exterior incorporates a Zen-like reflecting pool, and a “sky chapel” perched at the building’s highest point accommodates up to 30 people.

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Urban Office Architecture

It’s a surprising look for what is ostensibly meant to be a sacred space.

“It is it is not simply a holy place,” Enzo said. “It is a place where one can begin to connect to their own ideas and their own sensations and feelings. To that extent rituals can be performed and at the same time one could just sit there and observe what is going on inside himself.”

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Urban Office Architecture

The architect said that the transparent glass envelope around the central gathering space lets in light and a view of surrounding property to highlight the relationship of “man and nature.” Concrete grounds the building in the physical world. From the underground crypt to the main gathering space to the heavenly sky chapel accessed via a bridge, Enzo said, “the building is more of an expression of man's journey through life.”

Kristin Hohenadel's writing on design has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Fast Company, Vogue, Elle Decor, Lonny, and Apartment Therapy.