Warm layers of light ignite the ornate detail of this Italian Baroque cathedral.

Built as a counterpoint to the State Capitol in 1886 by the first Bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento, the cathedral is visited by 200,000 people annually and is the largest remaining historic Catholic cathedral on the West Coast. HLB’s scope of work included the narthex, nave, altar, art panels, façade, bell tower, building entries, and parking areas.

The team’s greatest challenge was to re-create a Cathedral that would satisfy contemporary needs while respecting its historical evolution. The lighting approach was based on a simple palette for ease of maintenance. Layers of light are utilized to reinforce the hierarchies of the space and splendor of the materials. A preset dimming system allows these hierarchies to adapt to the multitude of celebrations, and long lamp life is achieved by setting the dimming system trim at 90% or less. Existing fixtures were restored and modified to enhance the grandeur of the architecture, while at the same time preserving the historic detailing. The historical renovation remains a vital force in the city’s spiritual life.

Project Highlights

• Preset dimming system
• Restoration of existing fixtures


Beyer Blinder Belle Architects


Project Background

• 45,000 square feet
• $34 million


Illuminating Engineering Society (IES)
• Lumen West Award of Excellence

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