The multifaith area reflects one of the primary goals of the project — to create a building that serves all members of the HDS community. The building’s chapel was part of the original construction, and its design and details reflect the Christian-centric identity of the School at the time. The design of the new multifaith space, however, aligns with the School’s mission to not only educate leaders from all religious and spiritual traditions, but also ensure they have places to pray, reflect, and engage with each other.
Occupying two floors, the space is expansive, with high ceilings that allow natural light to flow in. The movable seating, prayer rugs, and meditation cushions are intended to allow visitors using the space for any practice to feel welcome, and there is also a new, adjacent room for ritual cleansing by Muslims before daily prayers.
Kerry Maloney, School chaplain and director of religious and spiritual life, said the chapel in nearby Divinity Hall has been in high demand for ritual gatherings of many kinds, and that the new multifaith space will support the growth of more.
“As a School that is as dedicated to the practice of religious traditions as to their interrogation, this bodes well for the flourishing of deep, textured, and varied spiritual life in our midst,” said Maloney. “Of course, we hope that this new space will also provide yet another haven at HDS for any individual person seeking solitude, prayer, meditation, or rest. Harvard, like the rest of modern society, is a remarkably (and, sometimes, perniciously) busy place, full of commitments, responsibilities, and deadlines. It can be easy to forget in the crush of each day’s duties that we are here precisely to resist that crush, to engage in practices that recollect us to our true (or in some traditions, no) selves.”