Case Study:

Transforming Contemporary Spaces
into Places of Catholic Workshop

~ Crystal Cathedral to Christ Cathedral ~

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Scott Johnson, architect and design partner at Johnson and Fain (California, USA), explores the transformation of the Crystal Cathedral, a massive glass structure that served as a megachurch for the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, during the 90s, into the center of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Orange (California, USA).

In this case study, Scott Johnson (who was, incidentally, an apprentice during the initial construction of the building) offers an in-depth analysis into the challenges found during the transformation, the many different architectural choices made to reflect the space’s new religious purpose and explores the idea of transforming and repurposing existing structures for the Church’s current needs and for Catholic worship, creating modern works of art that give glory to God and will be enjoyed by generations to come.

To find out more about this project, read this short article on Johnson and Fain’s blog.


Scott Johnson, FAIA, is one of the most highly regarded architects based in California. A prolific designer of residential, commercial and institutional building projects, a number of his best known designs have been widely published and have become local landmarks, including three high rise buildings in Century City, California, the Opus One and Byron Wineries in the Napa Valley and Santa Barbara County, respectively, Rincon Center in San Francisco, and the Capitol Area East End Complex in Sacramento.

Born in California and educated at Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley (BA in Architecture) and the Harvard Graduate School of Design (Master in Architecture), Johnson worked variously at The Architects Collaborative in Cambridge, Mass, the Los Angeles and San Francisco offices of Skidmore Owings Merrill and the office of Philip Johnson and John Burgee in New York City. For the latter firm, he served as Design Associate for some of Johnson Burgee’s most notable projects, including the Dade County Cultural Center, Houston’s Republic Bank Center, 33 Maiden Lane, 885 Third Avenue in New York City, and the Times Square Renewal project. During his tenure there, Scott Johnson also served as an assistant to Arthur Drexler in curating the ‘Three Skyscrapers’ exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1981).

Joining Pereira Associates in Los Angeles in 1983 as Principal and Design Director, he and William Fain acquired the firm now known as Johnson Fain in 1988. In addition to designing nearly 100 built projects in the past 20 years, Johnson has also taught and lectured at various universities.

©2022 Global Institute of Church Management and Fitzgerald Institute for Real Estate at the University of Notre Dame. All rights reserved.

Join the Community

Sign up for our mailing list to get the latest Church Management news and thought leadership

sketch of Vatican through trees