Essays    Reportage    Marginalia    Interviews    Poetry    Fiction    Videos    Everything   
Architecture Reincarnated

Queens temples break from Western architecture and remake old buildings into new spaces for divine encounters

By Thomas Mariadason

When the breadth of religious practice in Queens, a product of the borough’s diverse ethnography, meets its pre-existing building stock, you end up with an unexpected architectural topography among houses of worship. As local diasporic communities have transformed neighborhoods into microcosms of their now-distant homelands, so too have they erected sanctuaries that reflect familiar styles and dimensions from their cultural traditions. In Asian communities in Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, and Corona, they range from tidy refurbished basements to new, conspicuous religious landmarks. No matter their scale, the temples of Queens break from the rectangularity of Western spatial organization by reincarnating old buildings into new spaces for divine encounters.