Self Realization Fellowship
Some of the finest examples of Mid-Century Modern architectural design are in religious form: churches, temples, and synagogues. The First Church of Religious Science (now housing the Self Realization Fellowship) is no exception, with its swooping roof declaring the presence of a church nestled against a green hillside in northeast Glendale.
Completed in 1966, the church was designed by Howard Van Heuklyn of architectural firm Risley, Gould & Van Heuklyn, who was a practitioner of Religious Science himself. The Church of Religious Science began in Los Angeles in the 1920s and was no stranger to innovative architecture—a number of other Modern buildings with unusual rooflines once housed Religious Science congregations across Southern California.
The Glendale church has a breathtaking conical roof supported by large curved beams of laminated wood, with a massive stained-glass window covering most of the front of the building. A large cross serves as both structural support and decoration, standing at the center of the roof, dividing the stained-glass window and extending down to the concrete canopy sheltering the lower portion of the building. The canopy is supported by unusual posts that look like enormous golf tees.
The church sits in a natural bowl in the hillside, which serves as the perfect backdrop for the curves, dramatic points, and sinuous lines of the unique roof.