Publicly Accessible Buildings

Keeping the faith

Multi-faith student centre completed on sacred ground in New Jersey

by Sian 05 November 2010
  • ©Norman McGrath and courtesy of HMBA Click image to expand

    ©Norman McGrath and courtesy of HMBA

  • ©Norman McGrath and courtesy of HMBA Click image to expand

    ©Norman McGrath and courtesy of HMBA

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    As the media spotlight remains firmly focused on the multi-faith cultural centre at Park51 in New York City, many more institutions across America have begun to introduce non-denominational sanctuaries for public use. One such example is the Salameno Spiritual Center at Ramapo College, New Jersey. Designed by Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture, the 1,525 sq ft Center consists of four structures, two outdoor gathering spaces, six small woodland gardens and an area of decking with views across a neighbouring pond.

    Located on originally sacred ground - formerly used as a gathering space by Native Americans - the structure offers students at the College a communal area where they can openly practice their faiths, discuss ethical issues, seek refuge or indulge a moment of quiet contemplation. The spaces have been specifically designed for flexible use, the Padovano Peace Pavilion housing a continuous oak bench made from wood harvested on site and 50 moveable seats, whilst both McBride and Marino Meditation Spaces offer multiple single benches that can accommodate one to three people.

    Rising to 25 ft in height with 800 sq ft of interior space, the Padovano Peace Pavilion has been constructed with individual triangular and trapezoidal sloping surfaces. These pine boards are coupled with fabric-wrapped acoustic panels, sectioned by two bands of windows which frame views to the surrounding landscape. The adjoining gardens have been planted with a range of indigenous flowing plants that will adapt the look and feel of the Center throughout the seasons.

    According to Dr. Peter P. Mercer, Ramapo’s President: “A campus community provides the means to discuss and debate and to engage and empower. The Salameno Spiritual Center will offer opportunities for members of our community to have honest interfaith dialogue, to explore values, and to search for meaning.”


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