Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

International Center for Possibility Thinking

Garden Grove, California

1998 - 2003

As part of its ongoing commitment to architectural excellence, the Crystal Cathedral Ministries commissioned the International Center for Possibility Thinking, a hospitality and visitors center, which is a third freestanding element in relation to the Crystal Cathedral designed by Philip Johnson in 1980, and the Garden Grove Community Church and Tower of Hope, designed by Richard Neutra in 1962 and 1966 respectively. These distinctly diverse but compatible iconic buildings may be said to represent something of the evolution of architecture in Southern California over the last fifty years.

The Center, a partially cylindrical, four-story building, provides a gathering place for the congregation in an atmosphere of ease and sociability. When the eight large sliding-glass lanai doors are pushed aside, the reception area is open to the elements. Worshippers and guests walk freely from the courtyard to a large sky-lit atrium. Facilities for visitors to the campus include an auditorium with seating for approximately 300 people and a café with a sunken courtyard for outdoor dining at the lower level. There is a grand top-lit lobby space, gift shop, and ticketing office at the ground level with exhibition space, a small chapel, a library, and conference room on the three upper levels. Views are framed at each level, giving onto the multiple aspects of the Crystal Cathedral campus.

The exterior materials of the Center have been selected for compatibility with the overall architectural context. Embossed stainless-steel panels and window wall components complement the mirrored glass of the Crystal Cathedral. Polished concrete floors relate to the stone color of the adjacent Neutra building and to the exposed aggregate of the common plaza that connects the three buildings. The visual vibration of the thin horizontal steel balustrading, employed throughout, is echoed by a filigree of steel louvers suspended over the roof terrace at the third floor of the complex.

Clear plate glass conveys an open, transparent, and inviting architecture, while the glistening aura of the stainless steel panels presents a timeless sense of stability and permanence to the campus as a whole. A reflecting pool adds a contemplative and refreshing element to the courtyard.

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