Saint John's Church and Campanile

208  of  374

Date
1953 - 1961

Project Types
Educational
Furniture
Religious

Location
Collegeville, MN USA

Languages
Dutch
English
French
German
Hungarian
Italian
Japanese
Spanish

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Saint John

Church and Campanile (model)

Correspondence   1573  browse all »

Letter
Letter
Letter

Drawings   520  browse all »

Bell Banner
Larger Church
Chapter House and Cloisters: Study Sheet

Photographs   71  browse all »

Marcel Breuer, Hamilton Smith, Jim Leon, Val Michelson, and Clients at St. John's
Marcel Breuer at St. John's
Campanile and Entrance Façade

Breuer's office began working on the comprehensive plan for Saint John's Abbey and University Complex in May of 1953. A preliminary plan for the church was developed at this time and revised in May of 1957. The wedge-shaped, open plan church could seat 1,700 people in pews facing the altar, surrounded by a semi-circle of stalls for the monks. Amber light from a lantern filtered through perforations in the baldachin suspended above the altar. The folded-concrete structure rose above a strip of ground level windows. It allowed the interior to be free from supports and was faced with granite. The body of the church bore a striking resemblance to the nearly contemporaneous Conference Building at UNESCO. The northern elevation facing the monumental, sculptural campanile consisted of concrete-framed, hexagonal panels of stained glass. Breuer had wanted his Bauhaus colleague, Josef Albers, to design the glass, but members of the community objected to abstract designs for these windows. The campanile consisted of a flat concrete banner housing five bells from the old church. The banner was raised on concrete arches whose form was inspired by the base of the Eiffel Tower, which could be seen from the UNESCO site, and was intended to reflect light into the interior of the church. Breuer may have derived the idea of a campanile from his travels in the Greek Islands (1932-1932) or from Spanish mission churches of the southwest. Construction on the church and campanile began in 1958 and was completed in 1961.