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Architecture Grad Students Visit Mosque


Posted 11/07/2017
Submitted by Katrina Mill
Category: Campus Announcements, Student Announcements
University of Hartford graduate architecture students recently visited a mosque in Berlin, Connecticut, for research on a design studio project. Pictured, left to right, are students Alexis Hoff, Nabila Ahmed, Mary K. Scanlon, Maik Wedig, Jan-Hendrik Hoehnk, and Brian Gonzalez. Photo: Michael J. Crosbie

University of Hartford graduate architecture students recently visited a mosque in Berlin, Connecticut, for research on a design studio project. Pictured, left to right, are students Alexis Hoff, Nabila Ahmed, Mary K. Scanlon, Maik Wedig, Jan-Hendrik Hoehnk, and Brian Gonzalez. Photo: Michael J. Crosbie

Architecture graduate students from the University of Hartford recently made a special visit to the Berlin Mosque and the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford (IAGH) in Berlin, Connecticut, to attend a Friday prayer service and tour the mosque. The visit was part of an architecture studio assignment to design an Islamic center and mosque for a site in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The six Master of Architecture students were accompanied by studio professor Michael J. Crosbie, who formulated the design problem in 2006 as a way to introduce diversity into the graduate program and provide students with a building type that they typically have little experience with. The “mosque project,” as it has become known in the graduate architecture program, has been used in design studios taught by Crosbie and Professor Daniel Davis over the past 11 years.

On the recent Friday field trip, the University of Hartford contingent was welcomed to the mosque by Imam Refai Arefin and Dr. Reza Mansoor, president of the IAGH. The students (Nabila Ahmed, Brian Gonzalez, Jan-Hendrik Hoehnk, Alexis Hoff, Mary K. Scanlon, and Maik Wedig) and their professor attended the afternoon prayer service, noting the sequence of the ritual, how the prayer space is used, and design elements in the space. A khutbah (the Muslim term for a sermon) was delivered by Imam Asif Hirani of the Islamic Center of Connecticut in Windsor, who also publically welcomed the University of Hartford contingent. After the service, several congregants made a point to greet the students and faculty and to welcome them to the Berlin Mosque.

The tour of the building allowed students and faculty to visit areas for ablutions (washing performed before the prayer service), shoe storage (footwear is not worn inside the prayer hall), separate prayer spaces for men and women, and areas devoted to child care and community events. The design studio project is similar in size and scope to the Berlin Mosque.

As a way to familiarize the students with the history of mosque design, several weeks ago the students and faculty visited the Hartford Seminary near the University of Hartford campus for a two-hour presentation by Dr. Yahya Michot, seminary Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations, on the history of Islam and its architectural traditions.

According to Professor Crosbie, the mosque design project was instituted to broaden diversity and student experience in an area that they might not be familiar with. Of the studio’s six graduate students, one is a practicing Muslim, but in many of the past years the studio class has lacked students with first-hand experience of the building type and the traditions of Islamic architecture. Students will present their individual design projects in the Department of Architecture studios on the afternoon of December 8; the campus community is welcome.

University of Hartford graduate architecture students recently visited a mosque in Berlin, Connecticut, for research on a design studio project. Pictured, left to right, are students Alexis Hoff, Nabila Ahmed, Mary K. Scanlon, Maik Wedig, Jan-Hendrik Hoehnk, and Brian Gonzalez. Photo: Michael J. Crosbie

University of Hartford graduate architecture students recently visited a mosque in Berlin, Connecticut, for research on a design studio project. Pictured, left to right, are students Alexis Hoff, Nabila Ahmed, Mary K. Scanlon, Maik Wedig, Jan-Hendrik Hoehnk, and Brian Gonzalez. Photo: Michael J. Crosbie