St. Clement's Church

Richard J. Shaw, 1945

Harleston Parker Medal, 1946

Shaw, the architect of the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade in Boston, used a traditional massing for the church but expressed the volumes without conventional ornamentation. The horizontality of the nave and the verticality of the tower create an ecclesiastical composition that has an elemental power. The geometric purity of the spire and the columns flanking the entry suggest a spiritual progression inward and upward in a simple and direct way.

This is clearly a transitional building – bridging between pre-war architectural traditions and the post-war acceptance of abstraction. It bears some resemblance to “post-modern” buildings of the mid 1980’s when the pendulum swung in the opposite direction. St. Clement’s both/and character is both its strength and its weakness – as if it is trying to serve two masters at once.

Images: ©Yonward