Philip Bess’s Pizza – Front Porch Republic

Last week,  Philip Bess – the noted Notre Dame University scholar of architecture – delivered a lecture in Washington under the auspice of the group “Conservatism on Tap.”  Bess’s lecture was a first-rate summation of his book, Til We have Built Jerusalem, a remarkable and persuasive effort to relate the principles of new urbanism to natural law. In one arresting metaphor, he compared our current living arrangements to that of a disassembled pizza, in which we have separated out the various parts of the “pie” – residential, retail, work, school, worship, and so on – and thus rendered the delectable…

Building on Truth by Philip Bess | Articles | First Things

Building is a willful act of symbolic import, sometimes intended and sometimes not, and all architecture expresses the power of its makers and their aspiration to legitimate authority. This is true of individual buildings, public spaces, and all human settlements. Temple, forum, cathedral, city hall, town square, primitive hut, urban townhouse, suburban ranch burger, LEED-platinum office building, interstate highway interchange, urban landscape installation, medieval town, hypermodern metropolis—all require and represent the ability to bring them into being and sustain them over time. Their very existence requires power in the most elemental sense of the word. More than this, we attach…

The Little Way of Raymond Chandler – Front Porch Republic

… Cities are Babylon, they’re dangerous; we are often told that as urbanites, we’ve lost many of the instinctive responses that would have made Christ’s pastoral metaphors meaningful to us.  We don’t know from shepherds and wine-presses, wheat-fields and weeds. How then can I claim that living in a city can provide an extraordinarily good foundation for a local life, a human life, and a life of discipleship? It’s true that the medieval world that conservatives often look back to with longing was not urbanized: but we have to look further back still, look to the classical world that the…

How to Redesign an American Metropolis | Collegium Institute

Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago was one of the last efforts perhaps the greatest to employ classical principles of architectural, landscape and urban design in and for and at the scale of a rapidly expanding modern industrial metropolitan region. Though Burnham’s classical humanist sensibilities are often downplayed by contemporary admirers more admiring of his environmental and civic sensibilities, modern metropolitan Chicago to its detriment has turned away from all three. The Notre Dame Plan of Chicago 2109 picks up where Burnham’s Plan left off, critiquing contemporary Chicago and proposing for it a 100-year vision comparable in scale and scope — and also showing how the long tradition of classical humanist urbanism…

New Urbanism of the Soul | The American Conservative

Reading the New Urbanists, the philosophical connection between traditionalism in politics and culture on the one hand and traditionalism in the built environment on the other came into sharp focus. The New Urbanist whose work perhaps makes the picture clearest is Philip Bess, author of Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architecture, Urbanism, and the Sacred. You can’t be a conservative or a Christian interested in architecture for long without running into Bess, the prominent Notre Dame architecture professor who advocates New Urbanism from within the Catholic intellectual tradition. Bess, 62, earned a master’s degree in theology from the Harvard Divinity…

Why Place Matters – The New Atlantis

Contemporary American society, with its emphasis on mobility and economic progress, all too often loses sight of the importance of a sense of “place” and community. Appreciating place is essential for building the strong local communities that cultivate civic engagement, public leadership, and many of the other goods that contribute to a flourishing human life. Do we, in losing our places, lose the crucial basis for healthy and resilient individual identity, and for the cultivation of public virtues? For one can’t be a citizen without being a citizen of some place in particular; one isn’t a citizen of a motel….

June 14, 3:30pm. CIVA JustArt: Re-Thinking The Plan of Chicago as Civic, Natural and Sacred Order.

Christians in the Visual Arts Biennial Conference 2013 Wheaton College June 14  3:30-5.  Wheaton College. Underway for two years has been a critical consideration of how the Chicago metro area should be fashioned for the future beginning from Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago. Funded by Religion and Innovation in Human Affairs, of Boston’s Historical Society and the John Templeton Foundation, this research project proposes that “Baroque urbanism and Catholic social teaching can help locate the modern metropolis in both nature and sacred order.” The present state of the work will be exhibited and Philip Bess, the principal investigator and graduate…

First Things – A Dutch Master and the Good Life

“The Mystic Adoration of the Lamb” is the central painting of twenty panels of various sizes completed in 1432 that together constitute the Ghent Altarpiece. Since the time of its completion Van Eyck’s painting has been regarded as a major masterpiece of the northern European renaissance, noteworthy for its advancements in the use of oils, for the quality of its color, and for the realism of its portrayal of the natural world. These are but some of the reasons for its continuing importance, however, and here I propose to consider another: Van Eyck’s portrayal of the relationship of architecture and…

A Monastery for Seaside | Better! Cities and Towns Online

[Philip Bess, Notre Dame University] What would bringing Benedictines to Seaside accomplish? The main achievement would be a permanent worshipping community in Seaside, the effect of which would be to animate Seaside’s currently understated acknowledgement of the sacred order within which Seaside exists. This is because the most appropriate human acknowledgement of and response to the sacred is to worship, especially to offer as gifts things in and by which we ask the sacred to be present among us: prayers, song, bread and wine, acts of justice and charity, church buildings, cities—and sometimes, consecrated religious life. But why Benedictines? After…

The Space Between: A Christian Engagement with the Built Environment Eric O. Jacobsen | Baker Academic

“In The Space Between, Eric O. Jacobsen sets himself two goals: to get us to attend to urban space–the space between the buildings in a city or village–and to explain why Christians in particular should care about the quality of urban space. He succeeds admirably on both counts; cities will look different to you once you have read this book. Along the way he also introduces us to some of the most recent writings on urban space, and he offers a compelling explanation of why the urban space of our present-day American cities came to be as it is and…