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The Cathedral of Christ the Light


2121 Harrison St, Oakland, CA 94612, USA

Page owner: David Salazar

Project Overview
Project Name: The Cathedral of Christ the Light
Date Completed: 2008
Location: Oakland, California, United States
Project Status: Complete
Description of Location: Across from Lake Merritt. Oakland CA, USA

Project Team

Disciplines That Worked on Project

Civil Engineer: Construction ManagementCivil Engineer: Structural (Building structures)Mechanical EngineerArchitectLandscape Architect

Awards & Media
Project Awards
2009 Structural Engineers Association of Northern California Award of Excellence – Large Project, Landmark Structures Category - Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (architect, structural engineer), Catholic Diocese of Oakland (owner), Kendall/Heaton Associates (Architect), Webcor Builders (contractor), Peter Walker and Partners (landscape architect) 

Media References
Project Details
About this project
The engineers designed this building, with a 110-foot high cathedral made with glass, to survive a significant earthquake.

The Cathedral of Christ the Light, also called Oakland Cathedral, is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Oakland, California. It is also the seat of the Bishop of Oakland. It was designed to have a minimal ecologic footprint. Structural engineers also designed it to withstand more than an expected an earthquake. They used advanced seismic techniques, such as base isolation, so the building will withstand a 1,000-year earthquake. https://www.archdaily.com/13276/the-cathedral-of-christ-the-light-som The building is expected to last at least 300 years.

The design started in 2002 and construction was completed in 2008. The exterior walls are glass and precast concrete.
Who benefits from this project, and how?
The Oakland Diocese and everyone that are part of the church benefits from this building. It serves as a gathering place for a congregation.

The design using timber makes it more aesthetically pleasing than a conventional steel or reinforced concrete building.
Environmental considerations
It incorporates lots of natural light therefore there is very little need for light fixtures.

It also used renewable building materials. The concrete was made with industrial waste fly ash which is a by-product of producing coal. This reduced the amount of cement needed.

The building also uses "an advanced version of the ancient Roman technique of thermal inertia [that] maintains the interior climate with mass and radiant heat. Through displacement heating, small ducts beneath the pews cool the building from the floor." (from https://www.som.com/projects/cathedral_of_christ_the_light__structural_engineering"
What's unique about this project?
This building was named by Treehugger as one of the World's Ten Most Beautiful Green Buildings. It uses modern architecture to show off all the natural light it has to offer.

The engineers designed a structural system that had never been recognized by the building codes. https://apawood-europe.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Cathedral-of-Christ-the-Light.pdf

[This project profile was developed by student David Salazar.]

Funding & Costs
Funding source: Public
Project cost: $$$$$
Funding notes: From Donations through the Diocese of Oakland.

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