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Crystal Cathedral

Main Service Times: Main - 9:30 & 11:00 AM | Evening - 7:00 PM | Arabic - 1:15 PM

Art & Architecture

The Crystal Cathedral Campus...

Crystal Cathedral

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...contains a world-renowned modernist collection of buildings and beautiful statuary, distinctive in its ability to create a unique and inspiring environment for spiritual reflection and inspiration. The Welcoming Center designed by Richard Meier, 2003, is located in tripartite arrangement in relation to the Crystal Cathedral designed by Philip Johnson in 1980, and the Tower of Hope and Arboretum (formerly the Garden Grove Community Church), designed by Richard Neutra in 1966 and 1962, respectively. The circular, triangular, and rectangular-shaped buildings surround a shared courtyard, a 25,000 square foot outdoor room defined by the three iconic buildings of distinctly diverse but compatible modern architectural expression, said to represent the evolution of architecture in Southern California over the last 50 years.

ARBORETUM & TOWER OF HOPE - Richard Neutra, Architect

In 1958, once the size and the needs of the Garden Grove Community Church congregation, established in 1955, had grown beyond what the Orange Drive-in Theatre could offer, and recognizing the need for drive-in services to continue, Dr. Robert H. Schuller enlisted the services of renowned mid-century modern architect Richard Neutra.

The pastor asked the architect to design a structure in which Schuller could preach simultaneously to an in-church congregation and a drive-in congregation - a walk-in/drive-in church. Schuller envisioned a glass wall that would open to the outdoors, allowing him to be seen in an elevated pulpit by persons in parked cars. Neutra's resulting design would shatter ecclesiastical architecture norms, to much acclaim.

From this sanctuary (now the church's Arboretum) dedicated in 1961, the church grew and, in 1968, the 13-story Richard Neutra-designed Tower of Hope opened. With a 90-feet-tall neon-lit cross as its crown, the Tower of Hope would be Orange County's tallest building for more than a decade.

CRYSTAL CATHEDRAL - Philip Johnson, Architect

Building History

Dr. Robert H. Schuller said, "When the local congregation reached 10,000 and we needed a bigger church building, I remembered how wonderful it had been at my little drive-in church (where the ministry began in 1955) where there had been no walls or ceiling-it was there I fell in love with the sky! And that's why we built the Crystal Cathedral with walls and a roof of glass-crystal-clear glass that lets the sun and sky sparkle through our wonderful sanctuary."

On September 14, 1980, Dr. Robert Schuller dedicated the Crystal Cathedral "To the Glory of Man for the Greater Glory of God."

Designed by American Institute of Architects' gold-medal winner, Philip Johnson, with his partner John Burgee, Johnson has called the Crystal Cathedral his "capo lavoro"...the crowning achievement of his career...a dream fulfilled.

The Crystal Cathedral was also the fulfillment of a dream for Dr. Schuller. Since its opening, the Cathedral has been seen by millions around the world via the "Hour of Power" weekly TV program. Thousands visit the Crystal Cathedral each year, and it is the current home of the ministry’s local congregation.

The Crystal Cathedral is the first great church designed and conceived to be a "studio" for televised congregational Christian worship. And, because of the exposure it receives from the "Hour of Power," it was soon noted by the international architectural community to be one of the most beautiful and truly creative structures in the world.

Building Specifications

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.

Huge, white concrete columns, the largest ever poured, hold the balconies in place. About 10,000 yards of concrete, equal to 20,000 tons, were poured for the foundation of the structure. All visible concrete has a white marbleized appearance. The columns are hinged at the balcony, and/or 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.

More than 1,000 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.

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 and 11 a.m. every Sunday morning. The entire service may be viewed on a giant indoor Sony "Jumbotron" television screen, which measures 11 1/2' X 15'.

The Crystal Cathedral is not air-conditioned. Rather, it is cooled by fresh air flowing from the ground level through clerestory windows that open and close thermostatically. Heat flows from underground pipes to regulate temperature in the cooler months.


The Cathedral pipe organ, made possible by a gift from the late Hazel Wright of Chicago, is the third largest church pipe organ in the world. Conceived by famed organ virtuoso Virgil Fox, the organ unites the Aeolian-Skinner organ from Avery Fisher Hall of Lincoln Center in New York City with the Ruffatti organ built for the former sanctuary in 1977.

There have been numerous additions and refinements by noted organ builders. There are 287 ranks of pipes and over 16,000 individual pipes, all playable from two five-manual consoles. White oak cases hold the nearly 11,000 pipes in the chancel area. Included there is a rank of forty-four 32-foot pedal pipes, originally in the organ at Bovard Auditorium at the University of Southern California-a gift of the Mt. Olive Lutheran Church of La Crescenta. The South Balcony divisions of the organ contain 5,000 pipes, and in the East and West Balconies are 549 horizontal trumpet pipes-the largest collection of such pipes in the world.

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 County's tallest structures, the tower is comprised of highly polished, mirrored quality, stainless steel prisms forming a spectacular spire that 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. Schuller's 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.

WELCOMING CENTER - Richard Meier, Architect

Dr. Schuller and Crystal Cathedral Ministries continued their commitment to architectural excellence with the completion, in 2003, of the Welcoming Center (formerly the International Center for Possibility Thinking), designed by Richard Meier & Partners. An inscription on a wall inside the soaring main lobby offers a metaphor for the completion of the spectacular building: "If you can dream it you can do it!"

This visitor's center for the Crystal Cathedral campus features a 300-seat auditorium and café built into a sunken piazza at the lower level. On the main level, a large atrium artfully brings down natural light through tapered lanterns that also serve as thermal chimneys. As with most of Meier's designs, the pure white interiors capture the natural color of the light through the day. On the exterior, embossed stainless steel creates a polished and ethereal appearance.

The 58,000-square-foot stainless-steel-and-glass Welcoming Center marked the completion of nearly five decades of building on the 40-acre Crystal Cathedral campus, and joined Richard Neutra's Tower of Hope and Philip Johnson's shimmering cathedral as among the nation's most architecturally significant religious buildings.


    by Henry Van Wolf, 1969
  • JOB
    by Dallas Anderson, 1983
    by Dallas Anderson, 1984
    by John Soderberg, 1997
    by J. Seward Johnson, 1998
    by Michael Maiden, 1999
    by Mehri Danielpour Weil, 1999
    by De l'Esprie, 2000
    by Dallas Anderson, 2000
    by John Soderberg, 2000
    by De l'Esprie, 2002
    by John Soderberg, 2003

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