St. Basil Catholic Church | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by J. Eric Lynxwiler

St. Basil Catholic Church

St. Basil Catholic Church rises from the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Kingsley Drive like an ancient fortress, girded with towers and bristling with jagged, three-dimensional windows of stained glass and iron.

Owned by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the church was built in 1969 to replace the older St. Basil, which had been constructed in 1920, badly damaged in a 1943 fire, and rebuilt. It was very different in both scale and style than the old church, and its opening was met with a series of protests by Chicanx community members who felt its $3 million cost was a blatant extravagance when poverty in the archdiocese was so widespread.

The new building was designed by A. C. Martin and Associates to evoke the feel of a very early Christian church or a monastery, with unadorned exterior surfaces and an interior that felt like a place of refuge. It does this, but in a confident Brutalist style incorporating twelve angular, irregular concrete towers with a rough finish that exposes the aggregate.

The towers are laced together by astounding stained glass windows designed by artist Claire Falkenstein.

A spare landscape of sinuous trees in wall-like planters, designed by landscape architect Emmet Wemple, accentuates the base of the building and draws the eye up to the tall towers. The building’s interior is filled with decorative elements complementing the colossal concrete structure and is lit in many soft colors as sunlight streams through the windows.

St. Basil Catholic Church successfully incorporates a timeless feel of past and present linked together in a sacred space of monumental scale.

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