by Mark Paone, AIA

This chapel was an extraordinary example of Richard Neutra’s genius and architectural skill.  A renovation frequently does meet the design excellence of the original building because of the significant challenges in meeting current code.  This is a rare example of a renovation that is true to the original design but in so many ways, exceeds that of the original.  Neutra would be very happy with the outcome!

Originally designed to be cutting-edge in 1961, the 22,000-square-foot building required both aesthetic and technological updates. The Arboretum is part of the 34-acre campus of the Christ Cathedral, located in the heart of Orange County in Garden Grove, Calif.

The historical renovation of Richard Neutra’s Arboretum was designed to fully rehabilitate the facility to its original period of significance.  Work included a voluntary seismic upgrade, installation of under-floor air conditioning, dual glazed windows, new LED lighting, new finishes and new liturgy.

LPA partnered with the Diocese of Orange and the Christ Catholic Cathedral Corporation to revitalize the aging facility.  The team applied design decisions appropriately to achieve a balance between the needs of the Church and the preservationist’s desire for flawless preservation.  All are to be congratulated!  Renovations do not get better than this.

I recommend everyone visit this wonderful chapel as well as the rest of campus with buildings by Philip Johnson and Richard Meier.

Mark Paone, AIA