Multi-faith Spaces

Case Studies

Interfaith Center at Tufts University

Our Research

Our research, individually and collaboratively, to date focuses primarily on chapels, meditation rooms, prayer rooms and multi-faith spaces in universities and healthcare organizations. A background paper that describes how we think about these spaces is here. Our articles are below. We are currently working on a new case study focused on airports that will be posted here as soon as possible.

Multi-faith Chapels in Hospitals

Wendy Cadge’s social scientific research explores how chapels, meditation rooms and prayer rooms were designed and are currently used in large academic hospitals. In her book Paging God: Religion in the Halls of Medicine, she spends a chapter describing the wide variety of multi-faith accommodations she encountered while conducting field research at seventeen different teaching hospitals. From spaces resembling conference rooms to remodeled spaces built originally within one faith tradition, each hospital tried to address the spiritual needs of a diverse population of patients, their families, and hospital staff. In a subsequent chapter in the book Religion on the Edge, she asked similar questions in a different sample of academic hospitals in one northeastern state.

Temple Beth Sholom and Religious Architecture in Postwar America

A main focus of Alice T. Friedman’s academic research is Post-war American architecture. In her book American Glamour and the Evolution of Modern Architecture, she devotes a chapter to examples of religious buildings of the period. She moves from a particular focus on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Temple Beth Sholom in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, through a number of examples from Eero Saarinen’s Kresge Chapel at MIT to the Air Force Academy Chapel by Walter Netsch for firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The resulting catalogue of architectural solutions serves as an excellent point of reference for multi-faith architecture. You can read the chapter, “Mount Sinai in the Suburbs”, in its entirety here.

The Interfaith Center at Tufts University

Colleges and Universities have been leaders in creating well-designed and architecturally significant multi-faith centers. As the architect of the award-winning Interfaith Center at Tufts University, Karla Johnson has first-hand experience designing a multi-faith space on a university campus. In her case study of the project, she outlines both the particular challenges she faced and a range of design strategies she applied. There are a number of lessons to be drawn for similar institutions, who often host diverse populations of students from the US and abroad, mandating an accommodation of multiple faith traditions on campus.