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Architecture As A Gateway To God From An Agnostics Point Of View

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People have always asked me how to experience God, or a supreme deity. As an agnostic, I cannot verify the existence of one, nor will I say there is or is not a god or a supreme deity. I will say I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, but I can also try to emulate the Siddhartha as well.

Many cultures around the world have built great architecture to deify a god or a supreme being. The Mayans and the Greeks were noted for their architecture of the gods along with their appreciation of astronomy and cosmology. The Romans, albeit not piously religious, built architecture to establish themselves as a race of people who wanted to deify themselves along with a god or gods. Architectural traditions of the time were greatly influenced by a variety of religions including paganism, The Etruscans, and Greek Mythology.

In today's current world, Muslims have taken upon themselves to build great examples of architecture that encapsulates their vision of God, humanity, earth, cosmology, and life after death. Their society in the Middle East accepts these architectural pronunciations of God. Architecture is addressed in the Quran as a principal of celebrating life, earth ad God. In America, it has always been acceptable to express faith in building churches and synagogues. When it comes time for architects to build structures for public use, religion and spirituality are skirted, if not avoided all together. Only recently has architecture in America broken the convention mold of classic, and western post modern realism. Americans are finally feeling safe by expressing themselves as cosmological citizens and not just citizens of America. Skidmore Owning and Merrill have been doing work in the Middle East for a decade or more with that vision and now the United States is finally warming up to the kind of vision seen in the Middle East and Asia with architects like Adrian Smith.

Yes, now I am referring to 505CST. It will be an example of that vision here in Nashville if it gets built. Before the 505CST is built, I must say two skyscrapers in Nashville had that same vision. I am on record as saying my two favorite skyscrapers in Nashville are the L&C Tower and the Snodgrass Tower. I get the "God Particle" feeling when I look up the sides of those two buildings and here is why.

The L&C Tower has always been an example of the thin classic American skyscraper that defined America's economic strength. From the limestone cladding and the cast aluminum fins, ones eye is gently taken up the building until the vista view is the sky above where there is nothing else but the universe itself. The small footprint coupled with the height make the building look taller than it is.

The Snodgrass Tower is an example of post modernism that celebrates negative space rather than the building itself. The monolithic structure reminds me of two works of art. These works I will cite may be far fetched at first until you think about my supposition. The first example is the plaza of the Snodgrass Tower which is a representation of the columns and spacial features of the Parthenon in Centennial Park. Hence, the celebration of a Greek temple to the gods. The second is the actual structure itself which is reminiscent of the grand monolith in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, a structure constructing all space and time in regards to human evolution.

The building achieves greatness for its simplicity, yet at close look the curvature towards the base of the tower ignite a feeling that the building is about to take flight. Again, we see a tower that has a sort of spiritual mission, or a cosmological destiny.

If I chose a third building, it would be the Pinnacle Tower for its bleeding into the sky behind it, hence the name; The Phantom. I don't know if I experience God beyond any of those buildings. The USBank Tower, and the ATT Tower have that power for some I suppose, but believe it or not the two oldest skyscrapers in the city do the most for me.

Skyscrapers and God have always been a point of interest and even a philosophy for me. I have always love buildings more once they get past the 300 feet mark. I become impressed once the sky has been reached.

It needs to be said that the skyscraper can become the architectural equivalent of a god or gods based on the premise that they are positioned above the earth watching over mankind in a somewhat ambiguous statement. The steel, concrete, and glass are remnants of the big bang, or the supernova that created the elements and compounds that make up these edifices of human technology are real and part of our lives like the blood running through our bodies. Star dust and the very atoms of stars are contained in the structures of these buildings.

Can one discover God in a skyscraper? I think one can if one really looks at what they are, and where the came from; and most importantly what they point to. Human scale architecture makes our little and immediate world more pleasant and more livable, but the 300+ foot tall skyscraper point to a place that reminds us of where we are from, and where our eventual atoms will go. It is imperative that architects take that responsibility seriously and give us architecture that enriches our lives and points to our destiny.

Its time for God, or Immortality to come back to our skyscrapers and 505CST if built can achieve that.

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