Monday, September 18, 2006

A Baroque Student Project from Another Recent ND Alum

I have always had a great attraction to the Baroque, but I was lucky upon my entry into Notre Dame to make the acquaintence of Matthew Enquist, a talented young man who greatly furthered my understanding this splendid form of architecture. This particular project was done under the tutelage of Thomas Gordon Smith several years ago. Matthew writes:

This project is for a Baroque Benedictine monastery outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma. While perhaps a little fancy for Oklahoma, the High Baroque is a natural choice to express the Benedictine order. One can find similar examples of rural exuberance at that order's monastery in Melk, Austria.

Matthew Enquist. Front elevation of Our Lady of the Assumption, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The church proper is dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption. One finds her adorning the arch above the entry door on the front façade. Sculptures of Peter and Paul are located on the upper right and left of the façade guarding the entrance into God’s House. A sculpture of Christ with the cross is placed at the pinnacle moment on the front façade, above Our Lady of the Assumption. A large fountain is located in the center of the piazza in front of the church, symbolizing our baptism, cleansing symbolically before one enters the church.

Matthew Enquist. Section of Our Lady of the Assumption, with surrounding Monastic Complex, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The interior of the church has a prominent baldachino located beneath the dome at the crossing. Sacramentally and architecturally, this it is the source and summit of the pilgrim’s experience of the church. It is the sacrificial altar of Christ and the source of our salvation. The altar is visually set apart to mark it as an otherworldly space where man most intimately encounters God. This altar has been given the care and dignity that one expects of the place where God makes Himself present to Man in the Eucharist.

Matthew Enquist. Perspective of Monastic Complex, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

These are only a few of the images of this project. If you have any comments or questions about it please feel free to e-mail me at:, and I would be happy to further discuss any questions or comments about this design.
I think it is important to readers to realize than my championing of the Baroque is not an isolated oddity and that other people have come to see its power to express the joy and beauty of God's glory. Matt is one of those of my generation, while there are several of the generation of classical architects who preceded us who have similar interests, David Mayernik coming to mind particularly. There are also a fair number of other in-training architects of my generation, and several worthy of note who will graduate soon from ND, many of whom come to their love of this style out of their love of the faith. Perhaps Baroque, with its bold message and joyous awe has more relevance to today than some might think at first glance.

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