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the simplest building

A few days ago a friend and I happened along this beautiful stone church in Hygiene, Colorado.

This is about as simple as a building can be - a single, simple gabled building, about twice as long as it is wide.  And, about as tall as it is wide.

It is the Church of the Brethren, circa 1888.

The pure, simple, clean lines of the church are its only elaboration, its proportions its only decoration.

As an architect, we often take misplaced pride in our ability to create inventive forms that are very specifically articulated for minutely particular concerns - a slanted window aimed at a distant peak or a turned second story to address a corner location.  It has been my practice to try as much as possible to edit down a design from my initial sketches and models to try to distill it down to more essential elements.  However, even with that, no project is as clean and frankly brave, as this simple church.  It is a work whose formal properties, its very simplicity, is derived from the Reformation's desire to speak plainly and with raw humility to God.

It sits plainly and boldly on the landscape, not trying to integrate or be sympathetic with its surroundings.  Rather, it stands proud of the natural landscape, a work of Man, vertical and clearly built upon the earth.

It is asture and beautiful like few buildings are today.  It is not a work of the ego of an architect or a property owner.  It is both simple and proud - a great dual ambition that we makers of buildings should keep close to our hearts.