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First Look at the Crystal Cathedral's Massive Catholic Makeover -

Editor's Note: Dear friends of ours married many years ago at the Crystal Cahterdral and it was a Fairy Tale event -- like a Royal Wedding! Unforgettable! So we are intrigued by this make-over to see if the grandeuer and magic of architecture and light will still be there. Blocking out the light in the ceiling may diminsh that aura. How do you like to pray, communicate with your Maker - In a darker, cloistred church, synagogue or facility, or one with light streaming in and covering the congregants?


Bianca Barragan

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[Images via Orange County Catholic]

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange bought Garden Grove's famousCrystal Cathedral back in 2011 and made it clear that after three years, they'd be giving the Modernist house of worship (designed by Philip Johnson) a makeover to transform it from an Evangelical space into something more Catholic-appropriate. They've already changed the name to Christ Cathedral and now their official news source has released renderings of the changes to come (to the interior; the exterior, known well to viewers of The Hour of Power, will not be altered).

The diocese promised that a "renowned architect" would oversee the project, and a release from the diocese says that'll be Johnson Fain, focusing on the designs for the Cathedral building, and Rios Clementi Hale, mostly concentrating on the "exterior spaces."

"We're beginning almost with a complete clean palette inside the cathedral," a rep for the diocese tells the LA Times; a volunteer on the church's architecture board adds they're created designs for "an intrinsically Catholic space in a late modern building." Those call for quatrefoil-shaped shade structures lining the interior (to block out sun and draw focus inward) and a central platform with altar, lectern, and bishop's seat. The giant Hazel Wright pipe organ, "one of the largest such instruments in the world," can't be moved, but will receive some restoration and a repainting "in a more muted color," so it blends into the background. Meanwhile, the rest of the grounds (which include a building by Richard Neutra) will be set apart from the cathedral by "a large plaza ringed by hundreds of crape myrtles."

The Christ Cathedral is hoping to reopen in 2017.


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