Anaheim’s Crystal Cathedral, designed by Philip Johnson in 1980, and containing more than 10,000 panes of mirrored glass, is one of Orange County’s rare architectural treasures. Today the Roman Catholic Diocese, which purchased the church last year, announced that Johnson Fain and Rios Clementi Hale will be leading its $29 million renovation. The exterior of the building will be essentially unchanged outside of cleaning and replacing damaged glass, but the interior will be heavily remodeled to upgrade access, sight lines, finishes, and environmental comfort. The renovation will also add significant new elements to adapt to the church’s new Catholic focus (it had once been an evangelical church), including a new altar, a baptismal font, and new cathedral doors. “It’s an open palette inside,” said Diocese spokesperson Ryan Lilyengren, who likened the iconic exterior to a shell.
The 34-acre campus, which includes seven buildings (including structures by Richard Meier and Richard Neutra), will also be master planned to support a larger array of events and, as Rios Clementi Hale principal Mark Rios put it, “unite the campus and make a place that welcomes the community.” Twenty four teams applied for the renovation, a list that was pared down to four before this final decision. One of the nation’s first “megachurches,” the 2,750-seat church will host masses every day, according to Lilyengren. The church will close to the public at the end of October (services will be held in the interim in Neutra’s adjacent arboretum), and renovation should be complete by 2015 or 2016.