Issue 12 - Pages 18-19

Guest Editors Biography:

Nader Ardalan is President of Ardalan Associates, Consulting Architects in Boston. He is a Fellow of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University and the Director of the Gulf Research Project on Sustainable Design. He is the joint recipient of a recent Kennedy School Research Grant for 2010 entitled: The New Arab Urbanism in the Gulf.
He is a recognized world leader and expert in the field of sustainable and culturally relevant planning and design.  He has a close affiliation with the Aga Khan Award Programs in Architecture and has served as an international juror for numerous world competitions in the Middle East. He has held the position of Visiting Professor of Design at Harvard, Yale, MIT, Tehran University and lectures widely in international conferences and universities. He is the co-author of The Sense of Unity: The Sufi Tradition in Persian Architecture (University of Chicago Press) and many other publications.

Thomas Barrie AIA is a Professor of Architecture at North Carolina State University where he served as School Director from 2002 – 2007. Professor Barrie is a scholar of sacred architecture and author of Spiritual Path, Sacred Place: Myth Ritual and Meaning in Architecture (Shambhala Publications, 1996). His research focuses on alternative histories of architecture and, in particular, the interrelationship of a culture’s architecture and its cultural/religious beliefs and communal rituals. His research has brought him to sacred sites around the world and he has published numerous articles and lectured extensively on his subject area. His scholarship has been supported by numerous grants including two from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Study in the Fine Arts. His most-recent book entitled The Architecture of the In-Between: The Mediating Roles of Sacred Places will be published by Routledge in 2010.

Introduction by the Guest Editors 

This 2A Architecture & Art Magazine Issue12 features research presented at a 2009 symposium hosted by the Forum for Architecture, Culture and Spirituality, and  related essays and special art section articles that complement the articles on  architecture. Throughout this issue you will find a particular focus on the transcendent, diverse aspects of culture, architecture and meaning, and built works that serve to  establish connections between the poetic and the material. The quest of these essays by leading educators and practitioners of architecture is to offer an alternative way of approaching architecture and to shift from a kind of machine-inspired materialistic,  functionalist aesthetic that dominates design today to a more holistic sustainable and spiritually inspired design approach. The resolutions to these values and aesthetic questions remain elusive, but may provide profound inspirations for more meaningful answers that touch the individual soul and collective humanity.

The publication is organized according to the convenient (but not exclusive) categories of architectural theory, education and practice. Tom Barrie and Nader Ardalan introduce the overall theme by their lead essays. Tom Barrie describes the essential preparation and practice conducive to a transcendent world view, while Nader Ardalan positions this alternative world view and describes in summary the history, legitimacy and contemporary relevance of its root philosophic concepts. Julio Bermudez underlines the affective roles that architecture plays and its ability to phenomenally change us through the extraordinary experiences it can engender. Heinrich Hermann describes how the poetic and the ineffable can find a place in architectural education. And Michael Crosbie provides alternate views regarding the ubiquitous (and often inadequately understood) term sustainability as it relates to spirituality. These, and the other contributors, provide perspectives that serve to recall essential aspects and suggest a repositioned future of our diverse and nuanced disciplines of design.

The Forum for Architecture, Culture and Spirituality is an international scholarly environment established in 2007 to support advanced architectural and interdisciplinary scholarship, research, practice, and education on the significance, phenomenal experience and deeper meanings to be found in the built environment. Its activities include web-based information resources, networking and discussion groups, conferences and symposia, and publications. The Inaugural Architecture, Culture and Spirituality Symposium was held March 24-26, 2009 at the Mt. Angel Abbey, Salem, Oregon, (where one of only two Alvar Aalto buildings in the US exists). This forum provided a diverse group of international educators and practicing architects the opportunity to share, discuss, and explore innovative ideas, practices, pedagogies, and studies within the multifarious subject areas of architecture, culture and spirituality.

 Guest Editors: Nader Ardalan and Thomas Barrie