Crystal Cathedral

Crystal Cathedral, Garden Grove-California-United States, Philip Johnson, John Burgee
Construction year: 1980
Address: 12141 Lewis St. Garden Grove | GARDEN GROVE-CALIFORNIA | United States | Visit Website
Latitude/Longitude: 33.7874, -117.899

The breathtakingly beautiful Crystal Cathedral structure combines both the intimacy and form of much contemporary architecture with the grandeur and magnificence of medieval cathedrals. It is a concept that had never been tried before in church architecture and has since heralded a new era of church architectural design. An embodiment of light and space, grandeur and intimacy, the glass structure is recognized the world over as an architectural treasure. It was featured recently alongside the Hagia Sofia, Notre Dame, St. Peters Cathedral, and Barcelonas Segrada Familia in The History Channels documentary Building in the name of God.

The Size

The Crystal Cathedral spans a full 415-feet in length, 207-feet in width and 128-feet in height. The size of the Cathedral is enhanced by the all-glass covering that encloses the entire building. More than 10,000 windows of tempered, silver-colored glass are held in place by a lace-like frame of white steel trusses. These 16,000 trusses were specifically fabricated for this engineering feat. The sanctuary seats 2,736 persons including 1,761 seats on the main floor, 346 seats in the East and West Balconies, and 283 in the South Balcony.

The Materials

More than 1000 singers and instrumentalists can perform in the 185-foot wide chancel area. The chancel area is constructed of Rosso Alicante marble, quarried in Spain and cut and polished in Italy. The altar table and pulpit are made of granite, and the 17-foot tall wooden cross is antiqued with 18-karat gold leaf.

The Doors

In addition, two 90-foot tall doors open electronically behind the pulpit to allow the morning sunlight and warm breezes to enhance the worship services held at 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. every Sunday morning. The entire service can be viewed on a giant indoor Sony Jumbotron television screen which measures 11 1/2 X 15.


Huge, white concrete columns the largest ever poured hold the balconies in place. About 10000 yards of concrete equal to 20000 tons were poured for the foundation of the structure. All visible concrete has a white marbleized appearance. The columns are hinged at the balcony, andor foundation, to permit movement and to withstand an earthquake of the magnitude of 8.0 on the Richter Scale, and wind tunnel tests of 100-miles per hour.

Bell Tower & Spire

On the tenth anniversary of the Cathedral, celebrated on September 16, 1990, a beautiful 236-foot Bell Tower was dedicated. One of Orange Countys tallest structures, the tower is comprised of highly polished, mirrored quality, stainless steel prisms forming a spectacular spire which catches the light from all directions. This Philip Johnson-designed completion of the Crystal Cathedral houses a 52-bell carillon named in honor of Dr. Schullers wife, Arvella Schuller. At the base of the structure is an intimate prayer chapel named the Mary Hood Chapel. Inscribed above the marble walls of the chapel are the words My House Shall Be Called A House of Prayer For All People. The spire has been named the Crean Tower honoring John and Donna Crean who provided a large gift to begin construction in 1988.

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