Color photograph of the head and torso of a light skinned man wearing a blue blazer over a black shirt; he smiles and looks at the camera

Aaron Cayer

Adele Chatfield-Taylor Rome Prize
1 settembre 2023–12 gennaio 2024
Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, University of New Mexico
Titolo del progetto
Building Legitimacy: Designing, Disseminating, and Preserving a New Religion
Descrizione del progetto

Formed during the height of the cold war, the Church of Scientology emerged as one of the most powerful and contested religions in the world. To legitimize its doctrines and expand its reach, the church has invested more money preserving buildings and manuscripts than any other private organization in recent history. Today, Scientology’s global influence is evidenced by its historically preserved and adapted churches across sixty-five countries, including three in Italy alone. Conducted through site visits, archival research, and oral histories, my project will focus on the work and methods of Scientology’s designers and preservationists in Italy and beyond. At a moment when cities and countries around the world are grappling with the easy separation of rhetoric from material truth, Scientology’s history reveals how historic preservation and conservation support the production, legitimization, and consumption of twentieth-century systems of belief.