Lynn University announces design for the new Snyder Sanctuary

The sanctuary will serve the spiritual needs of people from all faiths and belief systems
Lynn University announces design for the new Snyder Sanctuary

Published Oct. 30, 2013

Lynn University unveiled the design of the Snyder Sanctuary, scheduled to open in the fall of 2014, to provide its community with a multi-faith place for contemplative thought and spiritual exploration so that people of any faith can have a place to find peace.

The building was made possible by a generous gift from Jamie S. and Stephen F. Snyder, vice chairman of Lynn University's Board of Trustees, and was designed by Newman Architects, the firm that designed the Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center and the Eugene M. and Christine E. Lynn Library on Lynn’s campus.

“The sanctuary is intended to be both a place of refuge and a spiritual place that is set apart from the everyday world,” Snyder, said. “It will be a place for meditation, music, celebration and dialogue, unaffiliated with any religion, where students are encouraged to explore different beliefs and shared values.”

The Snyder Sanctuary draws on various elements to reflect a variety of concepts about spirituality found in cultures across the globe and connects them with timeless themes found throughout nature.

"Every culture, every civilization of which we are aware has, not necessarily an organized religion, but a belief system that reflects a belief in our ultimately spiritual nature,” Herb Newman, founder of Newman Architects and project lead, said. “We thought about how to reflect this reality and use it to bring people of all cultures together.”

Design highlights of the sanctuary wing

  • Synder SanctuarySeven walls that lean on each other to create a spiral form are interdependent as they support each other. This aspect of the design is meant to show the interdependence of all living things. The spiral form is seen throughout nature in galaxies, flowers and hurricanes. It’s a natural, mathematical pattern repeated throughout the universe—giving a sense of movement and permanence. It’s known in science and in math as the Fibonacci Series.
  • Frosted glass windows in the interstices that let in light but are not transparent will allow natural light to fill the room with changing patterns throughout the day as the sun moves through the sky—communicating a sense of change. The frosted glass will also create a sense of separation from the outside world since it will obscure the happenings outside the sanctuary.
  • A labyrinth outside of the main building references some of the oldest ritual patterns.
  • Lobby, lounge and classroom wing with flexible space support the sanctuary wing.

“This inspiring structure will serve as a focal point that will provide an inviting space for anyone looking to connect with their spiritual nature no matter their cultural background,” Lynn University President Kevin Ross said. “As a school that has a high percentage of international students and that likes to say ‘All Styles Welcome,’ it’s key that we have a place like this for our community.”

A governing body will be created to follow the guidance set by the donors—it is to always be a sanctuary for people of all faiths, never favoring one creed over another. To help avoid any possibility of one faith being favored over another, there will be no religious iconography and no administrative office manned by clergy of any religion.

"Regardless of our individual religious beliefs, we all have a sense of spirituality that affects us,” Newman said. “That phenomenon will be invoked in the physical environment of the sanctuary. We are attempting to make a place of wonder and awe which will foster interchange and understanding of those shared ideas and feelings of spirituality and celebration of our diversity."

Newman also feels the concept of interdependence is an important idea to convey to university students since they are at a fragile point in their lives where they are just leaving the nest and learning how life works when you are in the world without your parents and protectors.

“For the first times in their lives, they are out of the nest and on their own in college,” Newman said. “The students are the same age but often separated by their various backgrounds, and therefore a place where they can come and look into the eyes of other people and share a spiritual experience is a very special thing.”