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Pros and Cons of Our Lady of the Angels

September 27, 1997

I agree with Nicolai Ouroussoff when he describes various aspects of the proposed design for Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral and its environs as massive, unadorned, vast, bare and potentially monotonous ("A Modern Sanctuary," Calendar, Sept. 23). I might also add: isolating, authoritarian, egotistical, wasteful. It perfectly describes the current status of the Roman Catholic Church.

When I enter a place of worship, I want to be uplifted, inspired, rejuvenated; I don't need to be challenged. The spiritual struggles embedded in an urban setting is in itself a challenge, making one uneasy and isolated. A cathedral, though maybe just a building, is a spiritual resting stop that should, at the very least, inspire the continuance of the spiritual journey; to be closer to God.

The proposed cathedral will be another "museum" reflecting a time when making an architectural statement on our society is more important than giving what we need in order to live in society. It will be a great commentary on our city, a monument for the next years, and I will visit it as I go to the Museum of Contemporary Art and appreciate it for the work of art it will be; but as for inspiring my spirit . . . I will rather watch "The Bishop's Wife."




Moneo's designs for the new Los Angeles cathedral appear to be inspired. It is in keeping with the legacy of California missions and appropriately oriented on its urban site. In addition, it looks like quite a lot of "building for the bucks" in view of the relatively modest $50-million budget.

I hope the architect is as successful in keeping most of the traditional gilded Roman Catholic tchotchkes out of the pristine interiors.




All of Nicolai Ouroussoff's florid language and philosophical gymnastics cannot mask the fact that the proposed new building is simply horrid.

The proposed new archdiocese looks very much like a penal institution and has no warmth, no grace, no delicacy. Ouroussoff is either blind to monstrosity, or the artistic pretensions of his intellect drown out the simple visceral reactions even he must feel from this soulless box of a building next to a freeway.


Los Angeles


Ouroussoff describes the new Roman Catholic cathedral as "an invitation to spiritual awakening in the midst of a hard-edged, secular city."

But the cathedral can cause a "spiritual awakening" only to those of that particular religion. There are over 300 organized religions in the world. When one of them builds a structure for itself, it serves only that particular religion. This is not a civic matter.



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