For years, Philip Johnson's glass-skinned Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California'completed in 1981 for televangelist Robert Schuller and his Reformed Church in America'operated as a broadcasting venue as well as a house of worship. Services were filmed for TV and more than 2,000 congregants sat in rows of padded chairs facing the interior's north side, which featured a pulpit, the Hazel Wright Memorial pipe organ (one of the largest in the world), and space for a choir and other performers.
In 2012, two years after Schuller's church filed for bankruptcy, the Roman Catholic Church bought the cathedral with plans to turn it into the seat of the Diocese of Orange. Now renamed Christ Cathedral, its almost 80,000-square-foot interior is in the midst of an overhaul at thehands of Los Angeles firm Johnson Fain. The renovation will make the space suitable for Catholic services and will also improve interior comfort, including acoustics, says Scott Johnson, firm principal. (Scott and Philip are not related, but early in his career Scott worked on the Crystal Cathedral project as a design associate at Philip's firm, New York'based Johnson Burgee.)