Sufism Reoriented (in progress), Walnut Creek, California

Sufism Reoriented, a religious organization based on the core values of love and unity, has engaged Philip Johnson / Alan Ritchie Architects to design a new Sanctuary and Headquarters in California. Each design element of the new Sanctuary has spiritual significance for the client and reinforces their underlying faith. The Church’s key beliefs in unity and the Universal Love at the heart of all life have led the design team to organize the Sanctuary space as a central dome that is surrounded by a series of interlocking domes. The space is open with pure white surfaces that allow for free movement and focused reflection during each service. In order to respect all aspects of worship, only the necessary functions are located above ground. All support spaces and additional function space is located on a concourse level below grade, which is more than twice the area of the structure visible above ground.



Cathedral of Hope-  Interfaith Peace Chapel, Dallas, Texas

The Interfaith Peace Chapel is a modern worship space designed by Philip Johnson / Alan Ritchie Architects. It is an inspirational design of “sculpture as architecture”. Seating up to 175 people, the chapel provides ideal space for intimate worship services, commitment ceremonies and memorial services. Not tied to any one denomination, this Interfaith Peace Chapel is meant to serve all religions. Though the unique form is not tied to any particular religious architectural style, the intention is for the structure to be a blank canvas that will be inviting and comfortable for all religious groups.

The chapel will be a place where people of all faiths, or no faith, can participate in dialogue, meditation and prayer. The environment and surroundings will inspire people to join together in order to build understanding of similarities and differences. The Peace Chapel is the integral first phase of the Cathedral of Hope Master plan which includes a 40,000 square foot Cathedral designed by PJAR.


The Chapel at Thanksgiving Square, Dallas, Texas

Thanksgiving Square is a peaceful landscape offering a calm place to rest in downtown Dallas. It is graced with sloping greenery, pools of water, and a cascading fountain set in a three-acre triangular site. At its heart is a chapel in the form of a spiral–a place for meditation and prayer. Within the spiral is a custom stained glass skylight that provides a soft, multi-colored light.

In 1992, the firm was asked to coordinate improvements for the Thanksgiving Square area as part of a planned new light rail, transit way system. The ensuing reconfiguration of the street allowed for the placement of train tracks. This also provided an opportunity to develop the Western point of the site. The firm also worked on street improvements, including trees, street and sidewalk paving, lighting and overall signage.

Client: Thanksgiving Square
Completion Date: 1977 and 1996
Area: 5,800 square feet (chapel)



St. Basils Chapel, University of St. Thomas, Houston, Texas

When Philip Johnson worked on the original master plan in Miesian style for the University St. Thomas in Houston in 1957, he had every intention that he would complete the campus with a chapel. Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects finally had the opportunity to make this happen in 1996. The result is a clever geometric composition that complements, although in an entirely different style, the original modern campus.

From the exterior, one sees a gold dome on top of a manipulated white stucco cube whose entrance is a giant “tent flap”. The cube rises 60 feet and seats 260. The Chapel is a cube sliced at an oblique angle by a black granite wall. The wall crashes through the galleries at both sides and is perforated by doorways, windows and an opening that holds church bells.

With a modest interior, the main effect is the play of daylight from several hidden sources: the slot through the dome above; an angled skylight over the altar; the chimney-like light over the statue of the Virgin Mary; and the slot behind the organ. The most important feature is the great cross on the west wall, which is made of clear glass and creates a startling brightness in the comparatively shadowed interior.

Client: University of St. Thomas
Completion Date: 1996
Area: 6,800 square feet
Associate Architect: Merriman Holt Architects


Cathedral of Hope (unbuilt), Dallas, Texas

The Dallas branch of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, the nation’s largest gay and lesbian religious denomination, commissioned the design for the cathedral in 1995 and are in the process of raising the funds now needed to build it.

In its rough model form, the Cathedral of Hope rises, like an iceberg emerging from the sea, and soars to a crowning peak over the altar. The finished version of the cathedral will be approximately 282 feet in length with 159 feet of an adjacent arcade area — taller than Notre Dame in Paris. The 27 year-old congregation, has already outgrown its present 900-seat building which it moved into in 1993. The new cathedral will seat 2,200 and aspires to the feeling of the great Gothic cathedrals.

The design stems from the firm’s exploration of a new architectural direction, one where conventional geometry is rejected in favor of a more expressive and free form.

area: 40,000 ft.
Client: The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches


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Philadelphia Cathedral

The office was invited to develop a concept for the design of the Church’s anticipated new Cathedral to house a congregation of 3.000. the scheme consists of the main body of the Cathedral, a separate bell tower, and teaching and administrative facilities placed around a large cloister.



Crystal Cathedral, Garden Grove Community Church, Garden Grove, California

The Reverend Dr. Robert Schuller commissioned this church to help transmit his message through architecture. It was to inspire and bond the experience of religion with the experience of nature. Dr. Schuller said that he felt God should be enjoyed in the presence of the sky and the surrounding world, not in a forbidding stone environment. In response to this Johnson produced an extraordinary glass structure. From the outside, the huge church, sheathed entirely in glass, appears as a gigantic crystalline form along the freeway, earning it its popular name, the Crystal Cathedral. White-painted space trusses contrast with the glass on the interior, a muscular counterpoint to the sharp angles and fragility.

In order to focus the interior on the chancel, the typical Latin cross plan of Christian churches is adjusted to bring every seat as close to the stage as possible. The nave is shortened, the transept widened, and the plan transformed into a four-pointed star. The congregation enters from three points, under the balconies, into the immense space. The center aisle is lined with splashing fountains that die down just before the reverend is about to speak.

A pair of “Cape Kennedy doors”, a mere 90 feet high, sit on one side of the chancel and may be opened by hand-held remote control, allowing Schuller’s address to reach those worshippers in the parking lot listening to his message on car radios. The church is not air-conditioned but is shielded from sunlight by its reflective glass and ventilated through motorized windows. The design of these makes the windows indistinguishable from inoperable panes when closed, giving the “crystal” an uninterrupted surface.

In 1990 the Reverend Dr. Schuller commissioned Philip Johnson to design a new campanile, or bell tower. The 240 foot tall steel tower, clad in stainless steel prisms, has a marble chapel at the base.

Client: Garden Grove Community Church
Completion Date: 1980/1992
Area: 3,000 seats
Associate Architect: Albert C. Martin and Associates