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The Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels
September 2, 2002 7:52 PM   Subscribe

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels ~ (en Español) ~ opened today. The $195 million cathedral was designed by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo and is one foot longer than Saint Patrick's Cathedral. [more inside]
posted by mr_crash_davis (32 comments total)

 
The building, which covers 57,000 square feet, also features 25-ton bronze doors, a 6000-space mausoleum, and a 600-car parking garage (which costs $2.50 for each 20 minutes of parking), and on its conference center's roof is a 66 kW solar power generator.

I think it looks like a prison*, but it's probably not Moneo's ugliest building.

*(large 325K jpg)
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:53 PM on September 2, 2002


While its not the vibe I would've chosen for a cathedral, it would make quite an attractive convention center/hotel. I guess its a matter of personal taste, though.
posted by Grod at 7:58 PM on September 2, 2002


that's a cathedral? where's all the stained glass?
posted by quonsar at 8:00 PM on September 2, 2002


Ugh. The inside is hideous too.

(which costs $2.50 for each 20 minutes of parking)

Now we know the price of salvation: 12 and 1/2 cents a minute.
posted by vacapinta at 8:12 PM on September 2, 2002


Moneo is indeed very inconsistent, fickle even. I like him best when he's repressed, as in Mérida's beautiful Museum of Roman Art (in Spain and in Spanish). I'd hate it, though, if he were summarily judged.

Good, topical post, Mr. Crash, sir!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:17 PM on September 2, 2002


Quonsar: May I interest you in a Romanesque bell ringer?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:20 PM on September 2, 2002


Where'd His Eminence get the money for all that?
posted by xowie at 8:28 PM on September 2, 2002


Ugly and overpriced. Glad I live several thousand miles away.
posted by pmurray63 at 8:38 PM on September 2, 2002


...and is one foot longer than Saint Patrick's Cathedral.
I wonder if Christ is as impressd as I?
posted by flatlander at 8:43 PM on September 2, 2002


I'm not sure if God appreciates contemporary architecture as much as some of us thinks he does. I eagerly await the next flood to cleanse the Earth of what seems to be increasingly uglier and uglier attempts by celebrity architects to see how ridiculously ugly and unfunctional they can make a building while critics will continue to think they're "expanding the definition of a space."

I personally think God's more of a perfect geometry, make the layout of the church look like a big cross kinda guy.

However, I'm not going to completely dismiss it, because the major appeal of a grandiose catholic church is actually being inside of it and experiencing the heavenly power imbued by the architecture. Looking at the pictures and the concepts of the interior though, I'm not holding my breath. Making the inside exceedingly spacious and huge does not automatically make it 'breathtaking' like the legendary catholic churches.
posted by Stan Chin at 8:58 PM on September 2, 2002


If you like cool simplicity, Álvaro Siza Vieira's beautiful Santa Maria Church in Marco de Canavezes, Portugal, is as good as it gets. The photographs don't do it justice but the idea (tall, white, unassuming and concentrating) comes across all the same.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:08 PM on September 2, 2002


What is the point of making it a foot longer than St. Patrick's, besides being able to brag about being a whole 12" longer than St. Patrick's?
According to the page that's actually the only reason:
It is one foot longer than St. Patrick's in New York. This was not true in the original plans, but topping New York by one foot was too much fun to avoid, a little inside joke even amongst the clergy.
I don't know if God would approve of that sort of one-upmanship. ;)

It just doesn't look like a church to me. I'm reminded of convention centers and banquet halls more than I am of a cathedral. I'm a Catholic (not the best Catholic, I'll admit, but I do attend mass occasionally), and I just can't imagine myself going to mass there. It doesn't look like it could provide the right solemn and sacred atmosphere most churches have.

Also, the description of the crucifix is downright terrifying... I'm not shocked they didn't post a photo of it. Seems to be the sort of thing that would give the average schoolchild nightmares.
The perspective is intentionally distorted so that there is a sense of awe that comes from looking up at Jesus. The hands are strong and the proportions are not exactly anatomically equivalent, but rather are meant to be expressionistic.[...]He used burlap and wax on the outside surface which let the bronze casting show the texture of the burlap, allowing the representation of flayed skin.

Personally I can do without the out-of-proportion distorted perspective Christs with realistic flayed skin. A crucifix should be inspiring to a Catholic, not creepy and unsettling.
posted by Kellydamnit at 9:28 PM on September 2, 2002


Where are the sleeping quarters for the lepers?
posted by anildash at 12:21 AM on September 3, 2002


Just as many European Cathedrals are built near rivers, Moneo considered the Hollywood Freeway as Los Angeles' river of transportation, the connection of people to each other.

Well, with that for inspiration, no wonder it turned out like this. Come on, LA county is legendary for the ugly freeways, bad traffic, and nasty smog...... and this is architectural influence?
posted by mogwai at 1:30 AM on September 3, 2002


As I read through this post I was interested/puzzled and amused by some of the posts, and references to the design qualities of the new cathedral...and then it struck me how pointless these buildings are...

I'm not religious, not even spiritual, but it strikes me that if you are either, it should surely come from within...the buildings/locations/style of your 'closeness' to whatever god you 'follow' - shouldn't really matter...

Which makes the issue of the 12" longer cathedral, even more pointless...and the unattractiveness of the building even less relevant...
posted by mattr at 1:42 AM on September 3, 2002


Maybe God is just making sure that one-by-one, every denomination gets an ugly cathedral in Southern California: The Mormons have this Superman-inspired monstrosity, and Dr. Robert Schuller's Protestant Reformed ChurchCrystal Cathedral is ugly inside and out. Both are alongside Interstate 5. Check out Schuller's superstar lineup of celebrity worship guests for this month, including L.A. Laker Derek Fisher and the Terminator himself!
posted by planetkyoto at 2:37 AM on September 3, 2002


mattr: ...it struck me how pointless these buildings are... I'm not religious, not even spiritual, but it strikes me that if you are either, it should surely come from within...the buildings/locations/style of your 'closeness' to whatever god you 'follow' - shouldn't really matter..

Perhaps you're misunderstanding (at least the original) reasons for building a cathedral: the space does matter. The intent is to simultaneously life your spirit up through the maginificence of the enclosed area and to remind you of the grandness of God, and, by extension, the smallness of Man and the fragility of Life. Yours is a very 20th century conception of faith, one that cathedrals weren't designed to address. Try for a moment to imagine entering a catherdal like the one at Chartres, when the tallest, most grandiose building within your entire realm of existence is a two storied row house...

Your religious and/or spiritual views are your own, and you are welcome to judge others from that basis. But you might want to take a moment and consider the historical basis; perhaps the Catholics thought, "Hey, now of all times, we could use a little spiritual uplift around here!"?
posted by JollyWanker at 7:05 AM on September 3, 2002


I suspect this will grow on people, at least those who visit and experience it from the inside. Though at first blush it does seem a deconstructivist monstrosity, in materials and profile it harks back to the adobe churches of the original Catholic missions (which I saw immediately, though they also mention it). The cross may seem tacked-on in the daytime, but at night it will be illuminated and unmistakable. Sunlight streaming to the inside will also be a unique experience, less ornate but similar in effect to the great rose windows of other cathedrals.

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is perhaps the ultimate traditional cathedral -- built using modern equipment but historical methods. Washington's National Cathedral eschewed the traditional in many ways but created a space that has come to be beloved, a non-denominational first church for many itinerant Washingtonians. I think Los Angeles deserves a church that makes its own bold statement rather than transplanting medieval France to arid California.
posted by dhartung at 8:51 AM on September 3, 2002


Just as many European Cathedrals are built near rivers, Moneo considered the Hollywood Freeway as Los Angeles' river of transportation, the connection of people to each other.

Must make baptism more interesting.... standing out there, holding little Johnny's head out in traffic until he renounces sin and the works of the devil....

And, I happened to like the Crystal Cathedral. Nice use of space, and great sound. I keep thinking that it's gotta have problems with local birds, mind you, but it was very pretty inside.
posted by dwivian at 9:38 AM on September 3, 2002


What an ugly color.

Personally, I'm waiting for them to finish the Sagrada Familia [Warning - gratuitious use of Flash]. That is an example of how you can come up with something new and fresh without utterly pissing on tradition and good taste.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 11:20 AM on September 3, 2002


Jolly - I don't beleive that size really matters. The Flanagan Chapel at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR inspires me every time I drive up to the campus and see it -- and I'm anything but religious.

I think the height is what inspires me. First of all the building is perfectly round, is built into a hillside, and is mostly supported on huge piers. Second, it somehow manages to meld religious influences with pacific northwest native-american themed styling -- I wouldn't have thought it possible, but it does. There are native american motifs set into the concrete panels that make up the rear stairwells, and totem-topped pillars line the walkway to the entrance. It's also built into it's setting so perfectly that you somehow feel it's always been there. The interior is atrocious, but my chances of crossing the threshhold and _not_ getting struck down by lightning are horrid anyway. ;)

Ladies and gents, that little chapel is architecture. It melds local influences and provides inspiration and a "wow, that's kinda cool lookin'" reaction. Moneo's is just an overweight monstrosity.
posted by SpecialK at 4:03 PM on September 3, 2002


i've always been fond of Holy Hill. i haven't been religious for many years, but there is something about this building that really inspires awe. It's a beautiful location regardless of your faith.
posted by quin at 4:35 PM on September 3, 2002


My personal favorite is the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona.

That should be a new post, I think. "What's your favorite religious structure?"
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:46 PM on September 3, 2002


I eagerly await the next flood to cleanse the Earth of what seems to be increasingly uglier and uglier attempts by celebrity architects to see how ridiculously ugly and unfunctional they can make a building while critics will continue to think they're "expanding the definition of a space."

Oh, please.

I eagerly await the next flood to cleanse the Earth of all the silly people who think that a building doesn't look nice unless it's decorated like a gingerbread house (I realize that's not exactly what you're saying, Stan, but you'll have to quantify your meaning of "ugly", but I would guess that you're being a tad sarcastic/hyperbolic). Seriously, I'm an architect, and I've never heard the phrase "expanding the defintion of space", nor is it something I believe I've ever tried to do. I do try to make the space interesting enough that you don't need all kinds of decorations strewn about, but that can be attributed to taste. Plus, the celebrity architects have to get hired by somebody, and it's not like the church couldn't have hired someone else if they weren't satisfied. Also, the interior shots linked to earlier by vacapinta are of a model, so I don't think those can really be taken too literally as a representation of the building's interior.

I've been looking for a few links to more modern places of worship as examples, but I'm having some trouble finding any decent pics. Namely, I'm looking for a halfway-decent interior shot of St. Ignatius in Seattle by Steven Holl. This is the best I've got.

Also, Ronchamp by Corb, and I can't find anything on either of Tadao Ando's two chapels. If I can think of more, I'll post 'em. But I think it's silly to think buildings have to be built like they're from the 13th century to be considered appropriate, and when you can find me a preponderance of perfect squares/rectangles/cruciform objects, I'll belileve God likes things nice and orderly. Until then, I'll stick with functional chaos.
posted by LionIndex at 6:20 PM on September 3, 2002


Anyone question that they spent $195 million on a building? It almost makes you forget that the church is called to care for those that society has forgotten. I guess Los Angeles doesn't have any poor or oppressed to worry about anymore.
posted by Coop at 6:20 PM on September 3, 2002


Each bronze door weighs 25,000 lbs.

Okay, that's a bit excessive. Commence with the flooding.
posted by LionIndex at 6:23 PM on September 3, 2002


If I were building a cathedral, I'd hire Lebbeus Woods.
posted by vacapinta at 8:06 PM on September 3, 2002


the Yancy chapel in the woods is a goodie too
posted by amberglow at 8:10 PM on September 3, 2002


Multiple wows - we really do need more architectural posts on MetaFilter. They lend themselves perfectly to the Web and make for deliciously varied, clicking threads.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:52 PM on September 3, 2002


Agreed on the Yancy Chapel. The rural studio is amazing work. Sad Samuel Mockbee passed away, but his students are carrying on the flame. I'm from Alabama, and these areas desperately needed the structures.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:00 PM on September 3, 2002


I wonder if anyone can do (or is doing) that kind of work like the Rural Studio on a larger (cathedral-sized) scale? I think it would really fit....

winking at Stan
posted by amberglow at 9:03 PM on September 3, 2002


Oddly, I stumbled across the wooden churches of Maramures today.

The wooden churches are a distinct feature of Maramures. Here the natives' woodcarving talent shows up in a display of beauty and creativity. These churches are built in the 17th and 18th centuries without the help of any iron nails, yet reach impressive heights. In fact, here you will find the highest wooden building in Europe (some say in the entire world) - the church of Surdesti, reaching 72 m (236 ft).

Just thought I'd share...
posted by vacapinta at 4:03 PM on September 4, 2002


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