Sacred architecture

Tabb examines Rothko Chapel,
Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut

In a March 1, 2005 lecture at the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, Phillip J. Tabb, professor and head of the Department of Architecture at Texas A&M University will examine the characteristics and symbolic meanings of two architectural landmarks — the Rothko Chapel and the Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamps, France. The presentation is slated for 7:30 p.m.

Revered for more than a half century, the Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, designed by renowned architect Le Corbusier, is widely regarded as one of the most important examples of modern architecture. Perched on a commanding hill above the village of Ronchamp, France, the chapel is a pilgrimage destination for devout Catholics and architects alike. Recent research, Tabb says, indicates that the building may be imbued with celestial programs that are played out in both the integral Cubist art and the inspired architecture of the chapel itself.

The Rothko Chapel, inspired by and housing the paintings of American abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, is viewed with equal affection. The structure celebrates and embodies terrestrial, rather than celestial, moments that emanate a grounded sense of quiet and inner focus. A modern meditative environment, the chapel serves as an intimate sanctuary to thousands of visitors of every faith each year.

A design educator for 20 years, Tabb’s expertise lies in sustainable community design and sacred organizational patterns. He has taught at numerous institutions across the western United States, Nova Scotia and London. At the college, Tabb is a founding fellow of the Sustainable Urbanism Certificate Program and is a principal planner for the Serenbe communities near Atlanta, Ga., which integrate sacred organizational field geometry with community planning.

Tabb is also a founding director of the Academy for Sacred Architectural Studies, a non-profit corporation in Colorado focused on organizing a set of alternative educational programs currently not available in conventional architectural instructional settings. The focus of study is on the perennial wisdom found in the world's major traditions, and how they embody sacred and archetypal principles that can be integral to architecture and planning disciplines.

A practicing, registered architect for 25 years, Tabb has worked in his own practice on numerous projects that integrated sacred concepts, such as the Celestial Seasonings Herb Tea Headquarters Building, the Rolf Institute Headquarters Building, and the Stetson Healing Studio.

— The End —

January 10, 2005

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