It comes as a shock to discover one of the Bay Area’s most riveting examples of recent architecture is not the work of international highfliers imported to San Francisco and its environs to rev up the local landscape. To be sure, Bay Area architects have long held their own with a calmly cool regional Modernism. But with current media hoopla, cultural institutions by Herzog & de Meuron, Renzo Piano, Daniel Libeskind, and Tod Williams Billie Tsien have tended to overshadow local architects’ achievements—at least until the conical and chiseled Cathedral of Christ the Light opened a few months ago in Oakland. Designed by the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), with Craig Hartman, FAIA, as the design partner (and Kendall Heaton Associates the architect of record), the glass, wood, and concrete structure reaffirms the power of an abstract Modern form to function as both a spiritual and civic presence. It also evokes the manipulation of light and space memorably demonstrated by the modern religious architecture of Eero Saarinen, Louis Kahn, Jørn Utzon, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Although Hartman and SOM received accolades for the International Terminal of the San Francisco International Airport (2000), this poetically ethereal cathedral clearly represents a different kind of architectural achievement.