Cathedral of Christ the Light

Oakland, CA

Close Up

  • Owner/Developer

    Catholic Cathedral Corporation of the East Bay

  • Architect

    Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

  • GC

    Webcor Builders

  • Completion


  • Building Type


  • Fa├žade Area

    Design/build facade program including 46,000 sqft of custom unitized curtainwall, 6,000 sqft of point-fixed glass walls, 10,000 sqft of custom metal panels, 8,000 sqft of storefront, 9,000 sqft of skylights, and 69,000 sqft of glass

  • Glass

    Insulated glass with frit and low-e coating, perforated glass for point-fixing





  • Excellence in Design , California Construction Magazine, 2009
  • Honor Award: Architecture, AIA, 2009
  • Outstanding Architectural Design, AIA, 2009


The first cathedral built in the 21st century functions as both a place of worship and community landmark, distinctly favoring a stateside modernism over traditional European aesthetic. The Cathedral of Christ the Light’s $190 million price tag makes it one of the nation’s most expensive religious centers.

The project’s 2.5-acre site is the former location of the St. Francis de Sales parish that was destroyed by the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. Seismic forces were thus of special consideration in the new design, and a 60,000 ton concrete foundation was built to withstand forces upon the cathedral. Structure and cladding systems would also have to accommodate the high movements and seismic loads required by California building code.

Unique performance and aesthetic specifications were desired by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP for the building envelope, and Enclos was enlisted to provide design/build services for one of the most elaborate custom enclosure systems yet devised. 1,028 units — each composed of 4.5’ x 10’ fritted glass — cover the 12-story domed structure, protecting the curved fur beams and 768 wooden louvers that pattern the interior surfaces to create a rib-like affect.

The exterior weather seal is provided by expansive glass surfaces, with each glass panel uniquely shaped on both the "Alpha" and "Omega" walls from carefully crafted triangular patterns. The Alpha Wall entranceway features a transparent skin that showcases the building interior's wooden structure, while the Omega Wall incorporates opaque glass.

The interior surfaces for both Alpha and Omega Walls are composed of custom aluminum triangular panels and stainless hardware. The Omega Wall features a spectacular 58’ tall backlit depiction of the Christ figure created from backlit aluminum screens that incorporate nearly 100,000 small laser-cut holes to achieve the effect.