Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Quick Layman's comment on the new Oakland Cathedral Design

California Catholic Daily has a story about the new Oakland Cathedral (by way of and it is disappointing to see the architectural design that they've gone with:

The Eastern Christians have often discussed the idea of shying away from glass for imagery because of its physical lack of permanence (it is easily broken). While I am not in agreement on the point of the use of glass windows for decoration (i.e. stained glass) there does seem to be something about this when we are discussing an entire building made up of glass. Indeed, one of the great benefits of traditional church architecture is not only its presence, but also its symbolic sense of substantiality, being traditionally made of solid quarried stone, which naturally becomes imparted in a symbolic way upon the Faith itself.

An entirely glass structure additionally has very strong commercial overtones (being as most entirely steel and glass structures are commercial properties). The church relates less to commercial institutions that it does with the domestic, or even the state (which at least pertains to order, law, etc.).

Symbolically then, as an architectural language and in relation to the language of sacred architecture, such does not seem to work here, anymore than it would necessarily work at a place like Ave Maria University when it proposed a similarly unfortunate design.

It also significantly limits the possibilities of the interior iconography of the building.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: