Page D1.1 . 03 December 2008                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
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Cathedral of Light

by Lauri Puchall

The soaring Cathedral of Christ the Light designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill has transformed an old retail and commercial district in Oakland, California, into a vital sacred and civic gathering place.

The all-new 224,000-square-foot (20,800-square-meter) complex for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland brims with amenities, including a public plaza and garden, health clinic, conference center, gift shop, and cafe, as well as clergy living quarters.

The main event, a curving cathedral of glass and bare wood, rises from an eye-shaped concrete base. From the outside, it is highly visible from the major artery of Harrison Street as it bends around Lake Merritt.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) faced the challenge of creating architecture that was both religious and civic in nature for the lakeside setting.

"The solution," explains architect Craig Hartman, FAIA, design partner in SOM's San Francisco office, "was to elevate the cathedral and the plaza and orient the entrance on the diagonal to make the most of the view (to the lake), and clear the plaza for public use."   >>>

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The Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California, was designed by Craig Hartman of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM).
Photo: CÚsar Rubio/ SOM Extra Large Image

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A wood screen shades the interior of Christ the Light.
Photo: CÚsar Rubio/ SOM Extra Large Image

 

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