MIT Chapel, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Completed in 1955, the MIT Chapel is a non-denominational place of worship located on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Designed by architect Eero Saarinen, the modernist style cylinder-shaped brick structure has no windows in the sanctuary, except for a round skylight which casts daylight onto an unembellished marble altar. The reredos or altarpiece screen, designed by Harry Bertoia, is made of slim rods of brazed steel with joined crossplates that diffuse light throughout the chapel. Saarinen’s intimate space coupled with Bertoia’s gentle sculpture creates a tranquil reprieve for one to contemplate, reflect and reconsider.

Congregation Mishkan Israel, Hamden, Connecticut

Founded in 1840, Congregation Mishkan Israel is the oldest Jewish congregation in Connecticut. The Congregation’s current building, which includes a religious school, was designed by Fritz Nathan and Bertram Bassuk in the Modernist style and completed in 1960. The main sanctuary includes an extraordinary ark designed by Ben Shahn, which represents the Ten Commandments in mosaic tile, reminiscent of an illuminated manuscript. Adjoining the ark on both sides are abstracted twenty-five foot high stained glass windows containing shards of blue and purple hues and the names of twelve prophets—six historical and six modern. Since its founding, the Congregation has been committed to serving the community with its liberal religious thought and social activism—especially in the struggle for Civil Rights.

First Presbyterian Church, Stamford, Connecticut

Founded in 1854, the First Presbyterian Church commissioned noted architect Wallace K. Harrison in 1953 to design its present structure. Harrison was both a contributing architect and coordinator of such major public buildings as the United Nations, Rockefeller Center and Lincoln Center. The structure, which was completed in 1958, is thought to be one of the finest examples of religious modern architecture along with those designed by Le Corbusier, Philip Johnson and Frank Lloyd Wright. Its reinforced concrete and stained glass walls are formed from more than 20,000 individual chunks of inch-thick glass – a stained glass technique called “dalle de verre“. The stained glass design on the right side of the church’s sanctuary suggests the story of the crucifixion and on the left, the story of the resurrection. The windows in the narthex or rear of the church displays symbols of communion and peace. Although not intentional, the church’s sanctuary has been likened to the form of a fish in both profile and floor plan – a symbol used in early Christianity.