“Skyscraper Churches and Material Disestablishment at the Fifth Churches of Christ Scientist”
Luckmann, Alexander. “Skyscraper Churches and Material Disestablishment at the Fifth Churches of Christ Scientist.” react/review: a responsive journal for art and architecture, 3(0); 2023: 21-41.
This article investigates the relationship between religious architecture and real estate development in the United States. Using Christian Science churches from the 1920s and the 2020s as case studies, it argues that when churches engage in real estate development, they often use an aesthetic and business strategy termed “material disestablishment” to downplay their religious qualities and engage more effectively with potential business partners and tenants. One of the Churches of Christ, Scientist, under examination was built in 1921 occupying five stories of a twenty-one story office building in New York City. The members sold their church land to a developer in return for a 99-year lease for $1.00 rental per year. The second church in San Francisco examined by Luckmann is currently planning to incorporate their church structure within a multi-story building. The church would own the land, and the developer would own the office and retail space. These two church examples allow its members to have a prominent place in the city, and to keep its spiritual and business dealings separate–examples of “material disestablishment.” These strategies also allow churches to “capitalize on rising land values, while navigating religious principles [and] the real estate market” (35).
Annotations related by category:
- Availability: Online - Free
- Official Christian Science Publication: No
- Publication Date: 2021-Today
- Resource Types: Article
- Resource Types: Web Resources
- Subjects: Branch Churches
- Subjects: Christian Science History after 1910
- Subjects: Christian Science and Architecture
- Subjects: Social and Cultural Studies