A universally sacred place for the living to reflect on the dead Beech Gove Cemetery /

by Birck, Adam R.

Abstract (Summary)
A Universally Sacred Place for the Living to Reflect on the Dead: Beech Grove Cemetery Adam Birck There is a need for a universally sacred place in which culturally diverse groups feel comfortable grieving together. In order to understand how to create universal experiences through architecture, research will be conducted in the area of phenomenology. Examples of spatial characteristics used in a successful sacred design are mystery, tranquility, and sanctity. Further literature research into the process of dying and the experience of grieving will inform design strategies. Additional investigation in the form of precedent analysis will examine places that are considered sacred and appropriate for mourning. The conjecture is that it is possible to create a poetic architectural language that can be developed into a sacred place where people can grieve both as a community and individually. A building design will be produced on a specific site, presented in models and drawings, and described in a critical essay. The goal of this project is to produce a source for those interested in universally sacred design. i i Preface It is important for me to define my interest in sacred space as a life-long quest. My journey into the world of sacred architecture began at a very young age. Some of my earliest memories are of the inside of St. Clare’s Catholic Church on the west side of Cincinnati. I remember marveling at the vaulted ceiling, wondering what magical force kept it from crashing down. In addition, I spent time taking in the scents, colors, symbols, and functional aspects in a very naïve sense. I can still recall the way I felt in the space. This experience and many others like it inspired an early interest in building and creating. During first grade, my family moved to North Carolina. Again, some of my clearest memories are of our church, St. Andrew’s Catholic Church. The contemporary design included large wooden beams that supported a lofty ceiling, a carpeted floor, and open courtyard arrangement. I would compare it often to St. Clare’s, find similarities and differences between the new and the old, while reflecting on how these two different types of spaces made me feel. After moving back to Cincinnati in the fifth grade, this time to the east side of town, I felt let down by our new church environment at Immaculate Heart of Mary. The windowless building was a bleak cinderblock space with no sense of community. I ask myself, “What makes this church so unappealing when compared to many others?” This questioning developed into a formal interest in architecture. Consequently, I sought out specific classes related to these interests at my high school such as architecture, sculpture, and photography. The summer after my junior year, I spent two weeks attending Washington University in St. Louis, where I received an introduction to life in architecture school. My most vivid memories of this trip are of various churches located throughout the city, especially the New Cathedral, an enormous church with mosaic murals that covered every square inch of wall and ceiling space. 1 After graduating in 2000, I moved into the dorms at the University of Cincinnati. Here, I drifted further away from Catholicism, replacing it with an interest in other religions, especially Eastern philosophies. Now it seems every place I visit, from Denmark to Montreal, Paris to San Francisco, the buildings I find most interesting and enjoyable are churches. It is not surprising that I want to design sacred places that people of all dominations can equally enjoy. In visiting and critiquing these sacred places, I began to see a need. As impressive as each building is, I always encountered a strange feeling of sterility. Each church had compartmentalized itself, wanting little to do with other religious groups. This approach seems backwards in this time of global communities when the world should embrace its cultural differences. Therefore, a need to somehow link all these diverse groups together emerged. The link that ties all of humanity together is that of inevitable death. This undeniable constant is a good starting point from which universal sacredness can grow. We all live together; we all die. By creating a place where we can come together after a death and grieve as a community, we will be able to bridge these cultural gaps in the acts of supporting, healing, comforting, and learning from each other. In this, we will be able to see all people as equals who face the same fears and the same inevitable end. 2 A Universally Sacred Place for the Living to Reflect on the Dead: Beech Grove Cemetery Adam Birck
Bibliographical Information:


School:University of Cincinnati

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:university of cincinnati


Date of Publication:

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