Over the course of history, the word “Cathedral,” conjured up a certain image. Now in the digital age new designs are breaking out of the old molds, setting a new stage for places of worship. The Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California is winning recognition and design awards for its contemporary and untraditional design. Designed by Skidmore, Owens & Merrill, a firm with such notable buildings as the Sears Tower under its belt, the Oakland Cathedral is a destination with tours and its very own gift shop – and it’s also a destination for prayer and reflection.
Unlike conventional cathedrals with an altar at the intersection of the Cross, this one has a more circular concept. The shape of the building is inspired by the “Vesica Piscis” shape of two intersecting circles with the same radius. In Latin, it means, “bladder of fish,” and it is has long been a common design element in Christianity. Commissioned after an earthquake destroyed the previous structure, the new building incorporates Douglas fir, green glass and aluminum. At one end panels of aluminum are perforated so that when the light hits, it reveals an interpretation of a 12th century portrait of Christ.Can anyone claim divine intervention in the area of building design? Maybe. Maybe not. But the designer of the Oakland Cathedral is said to have reflected deeply on the mission to create this space.
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