The following comes from a September 18 OC Catholic article by Meg Waters:
In 2011, the Diocese of Orange was blessed with the opportunity to purchase what is now called Christ Cathedral. According to Cathedral Rector and Episcopal vicar Father Christopher Smith, “We hope that everyone who comes to this campus will experience the love of God in their lives, by how they are treated, by what they see and by what they experience.” Even though the renovations are a few years from completion, the mission to serve as a center of Catholic life is already happening. Every weekend, 12 Masses are celebrated in four languages and attended by as many as 12,000 people. The campus ministries are thriving, and growing.
The initial design concept unveiled in the winter of 2015 for the renovated worship level of the cathedral was a reflection of the team’s “wish list” of amenities and finishes, but the wish list was bigger than the budget. Bishop Vann decided that, while the Cathedral was a significant asset for the diocese, its renovation had to stay within the prescribed budget. “To achieve what we need in order to create a center for our faith in Orange County and lift up the people who worship here, cannot come at the expense of our many other equally important ministries.”
Windows and walls
The iconic glass structure was in need of significant repair and maintenance from simple caulking to complete reglazing or replacement. The original building was not air conditioned, which was often a source of complaint, and the flat glass surfaces contributed to challenging acoustics. The renovations will add a very sophisticated system of quatrefoils of polished steel, which will deflect UV rays and heat from the glass. This system will allow the building to be air conditioned at a reasonable cost and improve acoustics without compromising the beauty and appeal of the glass structure.
Mechanical, electric, plumbing and air conditioning are located in a basement. To free space the initial concept moved all the utilities to a separate area outside the worship center, however, this proved too costly and inefficient so the new state-of-the-art systems will be located in the current basement area.
Under its previous incarnation serving a Protestant congregation, the cathedral did not feature a prominent area for baptisms. That will change. The conceptual design included building a 30-inch pool for baptisms but would require significant structural improvements to support the weight. Consequently the baptistery pool will be just as elegant, but much shallower, negating the need for additional structural support.
Originally, the altar was envisioned to be at the center of the worship area. Again, this was costly in terms of structural changes and reduced seating capacity. Consequently, the altar has moved back with the seating in a radial fan shape, similar to many of the newer parish churches in the Diocese – maximizing seating capacity and sight lines.
The design shared last year contemplated a variety of exquisite finishes in marble, wood and stone, many imported from proprietary quarries around the world. The final design has equally beautiful finishes from sources within the U.S. and other less-costly sources of equal quality.