St. John's Abbey and University Church
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Together, St. John's Abbey and St. John's University are home to eleven projects by the noted modernist and Bauhaus educated architect Marcel Breuer (1902-1981). The most significant of these buildings for both architectural and religious reasons is the Abbey and University Church, designed in 1953-1958 and built in 1959-1961. It is considered by some architectural historians to be one of the two most significant post-WWII churches in the world (the other being Le Corbusier's chapel at Ronchamp, France). It prefigured the churches of the post Vatican II Catholic church by surrounding the altar with the choir stalls of the monks and the pews of the congregation. This eliminates much of the decoration of earlier churches and re-emphasizes the significance of the congregation, focusing its attention on the centrality of the liturgical action in congregational life.
Technically, the church, built about the same time as Breuer's headquarters building for UNESCO in Paris, uses cast concrete in forms that eliminate the distinction between structure and enclosure. The folded walls are the structure as well as the enclosure. The folded structure of the walls and ceiling allow for a large open space unhindered by structural posts and available for freedom in planning the functions of the space.
Abbey Church [St. John's University]. Historic American Buildings Survey photographs. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/ National Park Service, n.d.
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Young, Victoria M. "Modernism and Monasticism: Marcel Breuer's Designs for St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, MN." Casabella 67 (October 2003): 28-39, 101-03.