Studio Ideas and Inspiration

A Building, A Metaphor

Posted in studio 1a_2010 by kforget on 21 January 2010

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

The Cathedral of Christ the Light serves as the new seat of the 500,000-parishioner-strong Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland, Calif. The animating force of this 1,500-seat cathedral is light, a perfectly universal choice given the multicultural makeup of the diocese. Otherwise, the cathedral’s composition becomes its own overarching religious symbol.

The shape of the building’s footprint derives from the union of two interlocking circles, a “vesica piscis,” and represents the idea of congregation. The soaring structure itself is a kind of inverted double-hulled ark resting on an austere base of concrete. (Given that the diocese’s previous home was lost to the Loma Prieta earthquake, the base has been isolated to hold up during a once-in-a-millennium temblor.) Inside the nave, 26 curving Douglas fir ribs support horizontal fir louvers, framing the ocular roof and monumental end windows. The exterior is clad in a shell of green fritted-glass panels. Light diffuses in through triangular aluminum panels that baffle the petal-shaped windows at either end of the nave. And on the north end, the Omega Window has been perforated to reveal a 12th century representation of Christ copied from Chartres Cathedral in France.

– KF

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