GARDEN GROVE — The Christ Cathedral campus became a huge outdoor classroom Oct. 29 when a group of engineering students from USC spent an afternoon touring the grounds and studying the engineering and design elements of three of the campus’ iconic buildings.
“This campus is incredibly unique,” said Mina Chow, a lecturer in the USC School of Architecture who teaches a class titled Architecture for Engineers, from where the students were drawn. “Where else in the United States do you have three of America’s top architects building buildings next to each other? It’s definitely worth the drive down. You can’t help but be inspired.”
Chow and her students visited Christ Cathedral, designed by Philip Johnson, the Tower of Hope, designed by Richard Neutra, and the campus’ Cultural Center, designed by Richard Meier. The interdisciplinary class, she said, is offered through USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering’s Building Science Program but is taught by architecture professors. On the campus visit, the students were guided by Robert Neal, the first Chief Operating Officer of the Christ Catholic Cathedral Corporation and now a member of the Architecture and Renovation Committee.
“We want to show students what it’s going to be like working with architects who do new and innovative things,” said Chow. “Technology is pushing the limits of construction and challenging us to be building in new ways, so I want our engineering students to understand what’s happening.”
The cathedral, the tower and the center all display “a lot of integration of architecture and engineering,” said Chow. “You can see how beautifully it marries together.”
The students, she said, “were awe-struck. You could see it on their faces. That’s my job: to figure out how to inspire them by showing what they’re capable of doing and letting them run with it. Taking them to sites like this is part of that. You have to show them things that allow their imaginations to go.”