Description: The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, known familiarly as St. Mary's Cathedral, in San Francisco has become a landmark that annually draws thousands of people to this sacred structure, which combines the rich traditions of the Catholic faith with modern technology.
The cathedral's striking design flows from the geometric principal of the hyperbolic parabaloid, in which the structure curves upward in graceful lines from the four comers meeting in a cross. Measuring 255 feet square, the cathedral soars to 190 feet high and is crowned with a 55 foot golden cross.
Four corner pylons, each one designed to withstand ten million pounds of pressure, support the cupola, which rises 19 stories above the floor. The pylons measure just 24 inches in circumference at their narrowest point and extend 90 feet down into bedrock. The inner surface of the cupola is made up of 1500 pre-cast triangular coffers of 128 different sizes, designed to distribute the weight of the cupola. At each comer of the cathedral, vast windows look out upon spectacular views of San Francisco, the City of Saint Francis of Assisi. The cathedral's red brick floor recalls early Mission architecture, and the rich heritage of the local church.
Above the altar is a kinetic sculpture by Richard Lippold. Alive with reflected light, the 14 tiers of triangular aluminum rods symbolize the channel of love and grace from God to His people, and their prayers and praise rising to him. The sculpture, suspended by gold wires, is 15 stories high and weighs one ton.