Safe haven in a desert landscape.
Architect Blaine Drake, a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright, designed the home of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix, Arizona, which was completed in 1961. Tucked away in an oasis of trees and desert vegetation and surrounded by dramatic red hills, the curved, brick building has an air of quiet seclusion despite being located next to a main road. Donald Weir, chair of the congregation’s renovation committee, says the building’s “slump block” construction became popular in the 1960s as a way to blend in with the desert surroundings. A memorial garden in the back is a focal point for small outdoor gatherings and meditation.
When it was built, Weir said, the church was an oasis itself—a safe haven from the McCarthyism that had driven the congregation out of several meeting spaces in the 1950s.
This article appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of UU World (pages 10–11). Photo ©2007 by Jim Frazier.
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Sonja L. Cohen is deputy managing editor of UU World and a lifelong Unitarian Universalist.