Portland Architecture has photos and details on a new 12,000 square foot Muslim community center and mosque planned for the N Vancouver just south of Killingsworth. The plans for the building look gorgeous, but break with traditional mosque design. Rather than being centered around a dome, the building is an series of horizontal masonry layers meant to create openness. "There's also an aspect of the inward-focused courtyard style of traditional Islamic architecture that is being turned on its head here with a public garden facing Killingsworth and a garden on the roof," writes Portland Architecture's Brian Libby.

The planned community center as seen from N Vancouver
  • The planned community center as seen from N Vancouver

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  • via Portland Architecture

Libby writes that the center would be home to the city's oldest Islamic congregation, formed in 1969, but the congregation hopes the building will be "a gathering place for people of all cultures and religions."

From the post:

“In our research and conversations with Koran scholars and members of the community,” [architect Garrett] Martin adds, “we discovered that simplicity and humility are extremely important qualities sought for mosques, yet often historically overlooked for the sake of the individual glorification of a rich patron.” ... The building is also situated at an angle to the street grid and instead is placed onto a q'ibla, or Mecca-facing axis, allowing frequent prayer to occur anywhere in the facility, by merely facing a room's end wall.

I think this looks awesome. As the whitest major city in America, we need more great civic spaces where minority or marginalized groups feel comfortable. Creating an impressive and open physical presence in one of the city's up-and-coming neighborhoods could be a solid step toward engaging Portland's Muslims in mainstream Portland life and city policies.

You can also take a tour of the new building a the Muslim Community Center website—looks like they're far short of their fundraising goals for the building, so who knows when we'll actually see this project.