St. Benedict the African Roman Catholic Church
340 W. 66th St.
Belli & Belli, 1989
Eight parishes were consolidated into St. Benedict the African in the 1980s, the building was designed specifically, with and for, its predominantly African American community. The result is a Modernist church--named for an enslaved person in 16th-century Italy who followed Francis of Assisi--that takes inspiration from the form of traditional African huts. The round nave is surmounted by a soaring arched wooden ceiling and ample light floods in around the perimeter to sustain lush vegetation. The interior features hand-carved wooden furniture and sculpture, contemporary stained glass a 200-pound hand-woven tapestry. The Ann and Arthur Eiland Art Gallery, adjacent to the nave, displays original artwork that relates the work of the community. The church's full-immersion stone baptismal pool holds 10,000 gallons of water, making it one of the world’s largest.