Christ Cathedral Arboretum

Garden Grove, California

Architectural masterpiece modernized and restored to former glory

Originally designed by renowned architect Richard Neutra in 1961, the 22,000-square-foot Christ Cathedral Arboretum required both aesthetic and technological upgrades. The design solution renovated the building in a way that restored Neutra’s original design intent—including his palette of colors that were hand-mixed on site—while also retrofitting the building with modern systems.

LPA partnered with the Diocese of Orange and the Christ Catholic Cathedral Corporation to revitalize the aging facility, which is part a 34-acre campus in Garden Grove, California. Designers applied strategies to achieve a balance between the day-to-day needs of the church and the desire for flawless historic preservation. The Arboretum renovation complements another building on the Christ Cathedral campus restored by LPA, Neutra’s Tower of Hope building.

Through structural reinforcement, the Arboretum was retrofitted to meet current seismic standards. In addition, the building’s 620 bays of single-pane windows were replaced with dual-pane, low-glare glass, improving energy efficiency while maintaining the transparency essential to Neutra’s design. Other improvements include refurbished architectural finishes, balcony and seating area modifications and lighting enhancements.

One of the project’s most difficult challenges was to install the building’s first-ever air-conditioning system. To avoid roof-mounted equipment that would mar the structure’s classic profile, the team opted for an underfloor air distribution system. Floor-level air grilles blend in with new carpet tile, providing a cool and comfortable worship space.

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