Designed to evoke the feel of a very early Christian church or a monastery, this Brutalist style Catholic Church along Wilshire Boulevard rises like an ancient fortress, girded with towers and bristling with jagged, three-dimensional windows of stained glass and iron.
Put your hands up.
Designed by the architectural firm, A.C. Martin & Assoc., St. Basil is a combination of 12 angular, adjacent concrete towers, each 80 feet high, separated by full-length, irregular shafts of stained glass.
The parish church building was built from 1967-1969 and dedicated in 1969. It required more than 9,000 cubic yards of concrete, and the walls were “bush‐hammered to create a rough texture and expose the color of the aggregate”.
In 1969 and 1970, the parish was the site of pickets and demonstrations by Chicano Movement protesters who objected to the archdiocese’s expenditure of substantial funds on construction of the new parish rather than on the poor and social justice programs. At the dedication ceremony on 29 June 1969, more than 30 picketers paraded in front of the parish carrying placards and signs which included such phrases as “$1,000,000 for glass and stone, but ? for the Poor”, “A Monument to Opulence”, “We Are Concerned About This Waste”, and “Where is the concern for the poor?”
Architect Richard Dorman defended the design against critics who attacked the extravagance of the structure telling the Los Angeles Times in November 1969 that the church parish has to make a positive statement with its architecture from time to time and praised St. Basil’s as such a statement. Dorman noted, “You make a list of the 25 best buildings in Los Angeles, and St. Basil’s would be on it — in anyone’s list”.
I caught a fish this big.
St. Basil Catholic Church is a Catholic Church parish of the Archdiocese of LA serving the archdiocese’s Our Lady of the Angels Pastoral Region, the Roman Rite parish is located at 3611 Wilshire Boulevard.
The church spire is 160 feet high and the cross at the top rises another 20 feet above the spire.
St. Joseph, you know that aspirin guy.
Albert C. Martin told the LA Times in 1967 that “the fortress-like composition of towers was suggested by 3rd and 4th century Christian church design and features of early monastic buildings”. Martin’s firm described the design concept as “a marriage of early Christian with contemporary to recall the time when the church often served as a place of refuge. It is devoid of external embellishments as early churches were, but it is not a carbon copy of early churches. It at one time retains the feeling of the past and present.”
The concrete towers are irregularly designed with some thicker at the top than at the bottom, others tapering from the bottom up, and some perpendicular.
LA Times religion editor, Dan L. Thrapp, described the concept in June 1969 as follows:
“The church is patterned after a third century Roman basilica with massive concrete towers in a seemingly random placement, but well organized so that the sanctuary, lighted through the shafts of three-dimensional colored glass windows, can seat 900 in stylish comfort.”
A 13th-century crucifix is suspended above the altar, and contemporary sculpture and artwork also adorn the interior.
Sculptor Claire Falkenstein created the stained-glass windows as well as the doors and gates. This project is considered by many to be her finest work.
In February 1973, St. Basil received an Award of Merit from the American Institute of Architects for “excellence in design and execution”.
Masses at St. Basil are offered in three languages: English, Korean, Spanish. Just make sure you bring enough cash for the offering candle, the prices have gone up.
The birdman will be waiting for you.