I want to thank Incredulous for this thread. I've been able to talk to several friends since my first post above, and they hadn't heard anything about this sinking cathedral or the lawsuit. So this is news we should know about.
The article mentions the recognition this structure has garnered from architecture critics, and includes mention of one other religious building (I hesitate to call it a chapel, as its name does), in France. Chartes Cathedral is also in France, but this is of a different order of building. I checked a website covering the architect's other works, and found a revealing description of the place:
<-- That's an architectural model for exhibition.
Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut in Ronchamp, France
(Chapel of Our Lady of the hilltop), Le Corbusier, 1954
The chapel, perched high on a hill, probably receives more architectural pilgrims than religious pilgrims. The chapel is a working religious building and attracts 80,000 visitors each year. The nature of the site has similarities to the Acropolis in Athens, starting from the ascent at the bottom of the hill and ending at the chapel itself atop the hill.
The thick, curved walls and the vast upturned roof give the building a massive, sculptural form. Small, irregular windows in the thick walls give a dim light within the building, along with further indirect light coming down the three light towers.
I looked for interior photos that show a religious ceremony in progress and found none. Take that as you may, but two possibilities are that the sight of a service going on might take away from the mystique of the place when it's empty. Or, maybe those taking and posting photos have no interest in the function of the building or how it serves people who use it. Do you have any better idea?
Here are some other images of the place:
A woman standing in front of the altar (notice, it does have a communion rail -- something practically unheard of these days).
Not sure, but I suppose this could be the choir loft area.
Someone is in a hurry to leave! You wouldn't think that empty space on the left is left without pews on purpose. I wonder if they ever set up folding chairs there when the crowd is really big?!
The irregular windows are deliberately offset and unpredictable to instill a sense of tension or uncertainty, just short of a pile of shattered colored glass. The architect didn't want to get TOO graphic or obvious.
Looking up inside one of the light towers which brings indirect lighting down into the worship space. Mahony's so-called cathedral in Los Angeles copied this concept.
(Don't miss the outdoors altar and the pulpit on the right, for outdoor Masses on the grassy knoll!!)
(BTW -- notice that on the other side of the wall behind the altar is where the interior main altar is.)
That is, after the stark banality of the original exterior became unbearable so they had to jazz up the exterior with paint!
This is the interior side chapel. The longstanding practice of side chapels was still expected in those days.
They had to put the HVAC vent in the floor because there was nowhere else to put it (and hide it).
For his three sacred buildings, Le Corbusier has played masterfully with orientation, openings and textures to create kinetic architecture with daylight. His pilgrimage chapel at Ronchamp, the monastery of Sainte Marie de La Tourette, and the parish church of Saint-Pierre in Firminy reveal distinctive and individual approaches that each render contemplative spaces with light. In his book “Cosmos of Light: The Sacred Architecture of Le Corbusier,” Henry Plummer, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has analysed these projects with outstanding photographs taken over 40 years and brilliant writing.
To see how he made this moving light pattern a feature of his design, go here
Initially planned in 2000, the cathedral broke ground in 2005. It replaced Oakland’s Cathedral of Saint Francis de Sales, which was damaged beyond repair in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.The cathedral drew some criticism during its construction for its steep cost and later for its modern design, but it also earned great praise, particularly in architecture circles.
The November 2016 issue of the journal Architectural Record put the cathedral on a list of the most important works of architecture in the past 125 years — on par with works such as the Empire State Building in New York and Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp Chapel in France (Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut).
- I thought the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels here in L.A. was ugly, but WOW!, this one surpasses that by a mile. This type of architecture is a direct result of Vatican-II. Since the late 1960s, as a result of V-II, a vast majority of new Catholic churches are monstrosities like this and have no feeling of the majesty, glory, and history of the church.
That last comment from a reader about the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels was interesting to see. Because it's design was inspired by Le Corbusier's Ronchamp Chapel in France (pictures of which see above).