Gethsemane Episcopal Church

Fargo, N.D.

An astutely elegant cathedral, this church looks at home on the prairie and is a refuge from the area's severe climate. The bell tower suggests a grain elevator, and the board-and-batten building, which includes offices and schoolrooms, a barn.

Gethsemane Episcopal Church (Interior)

Fargo, N.D.

A rich red canopy, which the architects call a "cloud cover," arches over the nave. Gethsemane, dominated by skylights and scissors trusses, incorporates stained glass and pews salvaged from the old cathedral.

Congregation B'nai Yisrael

Armonk, N.Y.

Architect Lee H. Skolnick's strikingly simple temple is at one with its site, a tree-filled slope. Night transforms the synagogue, which is luminescent as the interior is enveloped in warm light.

Congregation B'nai Yisrael (Stairs)

Armonk, N.Y.

An exterior stairway, open on one side, is indicative of the essential ideas contained in the synagogue. The architects wanted it to be spacious and firm, yet open to and part of the landscape.

Chuang Yen Monastery

Putnam County, N.Y.

Conceived by I.M Pei, an enormous Tang dynasty temple dominated by a 37-foot-high Buddha rises in the woods. One of the world's largest indoor Buddhas, the statue is made of cold-cast marble and fiberglass. Twelve bodhisattvas, who grant prayer requests, circle its base.

First Presbyterian Church

Stamford, Conn.

With a massive gray whale-like facade, this house of worship has come to be known as the Fish Church. A concrete dove ascends between the double doors at the entrance to the church

First Presbyterian Church (Detail)

Stamford, Conn.

Concrete panels, folded rather like origami, are an engineering feat ahead of their time.

Chapel of St. Ignatius

Seattle, Wash.

Steven Holl's spare chapel at a Catholic university speaks to many faiths, and is, in every sense, illuminating. The legs of the altar are, symbolically, the Greek letters alpha and omega. Colorful splashes of light glisten on the burnished floor.

Islamic Cultural Center

New York, N.Y.

Because the Islamic center on Manhattan's Upper East Side serves the faithful from many cultures and traditions, its design emphasizes geometry, a language shared by all. The center lies both on and off the city grid. The mosque's plaza entry angles toward Mecca; secular areas conform to city geography.

Islamic Cultural Center (Prayer Niche)

New York, N.Y.

Clear and etched glass panels shape the mihrab, or prayer niche, inside a portal covered with verses of the Koran in gold-leafed Kufic script.

Enmanji Buddhist Temple

Sebastopol, Calif.

Since the Depression, a 12th-century-style Japanese temple has offered solace and inspiration. A small Japanese garden flanks the entrance to the temple.

Enmanji Buddhist Temple (Interior)

Sebastopol, Calif.

Worshippers sit in sturdy wooden pews. The walls and ceiling feature hand-painted decoration with such important symbols as lotus flowers and dragons.

All Saints Chapel

Linville, N.C.

Up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, a chapel completed in 1913 is a remarkable testament to the glory of nature. The tiny church remains unchanged, a memorable spot for worship, and shares an architecture with the area's lodges.

All Saints Chapel (Interior)

Linville, N.C.

Inside the intimate church, exposed log beams give the sense of a forest canopy.

San Juan Bautista Mission

Miami, Fla.

A struggling area gets a true community church, thanks to architect Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and an indefatigable priest who reached out to local artists. After Mass, parishioners and passersby can buy savories outside the stucco church.

San Juan Bautista Mission (Interior)

Miami, Fla

A local artist painted the blue ceiling, a representation of the ascension of Mary. The faces of 25 angels surrounding her are not of imaginary cherubs but of children in the area.

For more from “House of Worship,” visit houseandgarden.com

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