Los Angeles is home to the $250 million (the cost at completion in 2002) eyesore that serves as the Roman Catholic cathedral in this large city diocese. It seats some 3,000 people although I cannot imagine why anyone would want to worship in such a monstrosity. Even the angels (its name) are probably not comfortable in it. The hard exterior belies and equally hard, stark, raw, and blunt interior. You be the judge.
It is a structure with edges and angles but without much welcome or sense of angels. It is a building that fits a moment but stands in contrast with the church of the ages.
The interior is as bland and flat in color and tone as the outside and draws more attention to itself than what is supposed to go on inside of it.
But it cost a quarter of a billion dollars so it must be great architecture, right?
You don't have to go far to visit another timely structure. At $175 million, it is almost a bargain when compared with LA's cathedral. Built from 2005 and 2008, Oakland’s Cathedral of Light which seats 1,300 which puts the cost per person significantly higher. So what did the extra money go for? Windows, apparently!
It is a silvery curve that betrays little of its purpose in arising out of the ground but it does stand out against the structures around it. Whether that is good or bad depends upon your perspective.
The interior is like worshiping inside an upside down basket and a floating, ghostly image of Jesus in the chancel is about the only clue to tell you what this building was built for and what is supposed to take place inside it.
If you think it is successful, it is probably because it is odd, unusual, interesting even, but beautiful? I am not so sure and friendly to the liturgy and to the worship of God? Well, again, I am not so sure.
In contrast to these, there is a cathedral size church going up, in of all places Kansas. It is paid for and the cost is, I am told, about $30 million (probably less than what some of these other buildings spent on architectural and engineering fees).
It is not avant garde or ground breaking in design. In fact, it lends its origins to the tried and tested rules of the past to provide space befitting the purpose of worship and focusing attention less on itself than on the God who is being worshiped. Well, again, you be the judge.
With the money already been raised ( 3//4 from its own parish community), it will be home to a parish of some 4,000 people and seats
about 1,500. Here are architect’s renderings. My only point is to suggest that those who design church buildings would do well to remember that they are for worship, that the generations that come after will have to live with the artistic creations of their genius, and that if it is not clear from inside or out that the glory goes to God, something is wrong.