Los Angeles, California


Our Lady of the Angels -- Below is an excerpt from www.olacathedral.org:

The 151 million pound Cathedral rests on 198 base isolators so that it will float up to 27 inches during a magnitude 8 point earthquake. The design is so geometrically complex that none of the concrete forms could vary by more than 1/16th of an inch.

The Cathedral is built with architectural concrete in a color reminiscent of the sun-baked adobe walls of the California Missions and is designed to last 500 years."

I suppose, in 500 years, we'll get used to it. Designed by Spanish architect Josť Rafael Moneo, the $163 million project to replace the earthquake-stricken St Vibiana Cathedral was never to suffer the same fate again. It remains to be seen whether such powerful engineering can indeed withstand the moving earth, but until the ground shakes, its stark geometry can certainly be quite intimidating to behold.

Perhaps, in five centuries, we'll also forget the cathedral's most inauspicious debut in 2002, its being consecrated during the height of the nationwide pedophilia scandals amongst the Catholic priesthood. It was inevitable that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest in North America, had its part in such sordid affairs, as Cardinal Roger Mahoney admitted to the transferring of several priests with known records of sexual misconduct.

This is hardly the first modern cathedral wrought in controversy. The laity thoroughly detested the replacement of the ancient Gothic wonder leveled by German bombs in Coventry, England: the uncomfortable design did, in its own fashion, portray the uncertainty towards the future felt by the post-war generation. In Germany, the burghers thought it best either to restore old churches to their pre-war countenance, or to leave their ruins as they are to become monuments of their own right. If visitors in Berlin ever had to complain about the steel-and-glass oddity standing next to a Baroque ruin, all they had to do was to reflect on the meaning of the name "Memorial Church."

These photos are taken with the Nikon D100 digital SLR and the Nikon f/2.8 20mm D lens.


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