And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Revelations 21:2

And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
Revelations 21:25

And there shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.
Revelations 21:26

Design, Symbol, Rite, Iconography

KEEPING THE MEMORY of the capsule alive for 1000 years is a redoubtable challenge. One approach is to keep the capsule on display - as reliquaries, statues, paintings and tapestries have been in churches since time immemorial. But for this, the capsule must, in addition to high esthetic interest, be endowed with or acquire a significance that transcends the meaning of a simple time capsule containing some items which in themselves may neither command nor deserve the veneration paid to reliquaries and other such religious objects. Another approach is to bury it into the ground outside under some marker, or inside under a slab also properly identified directly and in records. No matter where it is placed, however, its location is of course critical to its safety from plunderers, looters and vandals.

We have addressed these problems in several ways.

DESIGN: We propose a capsule that, in its design, structure and proportions, is an embodiment of traditional knowledge such as that found in sacred geometry. We thereby endow it with a high esthetic appeal and capture the essence of some fundamental ideas which have given birth to, or sustained throughout the ages, some of the most profound speculations in philosophy, science and religion. The container then becomes content, notwithstanding its payload, metamorphosing into The Millennium Sphere: "Sound, matter and light are united in it to celebrate a single energy willed into harmony."

SYMBOL: We have chosen placements and markers within the cathedral architecture that add symbolic meaning to The Millennium Sphere.

RITUAL: We propose to endow The Millennium Sphere with a periodic ritual or liturgy that resonates with some of the themes held in high regardby the religious, civic and cultural community of the cathedral and the wider community of city, nation and world at large.

ICONOGRAPHY: We propose to circulate a large number of icons of The Millennium Sphere at regular intervals dictated by the ritual.

The realization of our project is therefore the result of the interplay, within the framework of the location previously mentioned, of three fundamental elements:

A PHYSICAL ELEMENT - The Millennium Sphere, containing in its core the capsule of selected material for transmittal, 1000 years hence, to whomever will be there to receive it - but uplifted through design into a material harmony: a hymn in metal.

A SYMBOLIC ELEMENT - A symbolic representation within the architectural setting to unambiguously point to the presence of The Millennium Sphere and integrate it within the place and its tradition.

A RITUALISTIC ELEMENT - A rite that binds, through language and gesture, the collective memory of The Millennium Sphere to the powerful truths alive in the human heart. For "beyond everything else, [it is] the urgency of language - active power, forever animating, initiating, and creating" that will sustain the millennial rite and its memory.

We now turn to consideration of each of these elements. Because the liturgy is the bond that unites The Millennium Sphere to the living community of which it will be part, it is best to start by looking first at the rite to be associated with the sphere.

Copyright © 1999 The Cooper Union