St. Mark’s Cathedral Expansion and Renovation

Location Seattle, Washington
Design Principal Jim Olson

Olson Kundig’s 1997 renovation of Saint Mark’s Cathedral enhanced and enlarged upon the spiritual qualities inherent in the building, while improving liturgical and functional elements. As part of the expansion and remodeling, the concrete walls of the west facade were covered with Indiana limestone, completing the exterior as originally intended. A 21-foot-diameter great window was included as part of the new west wall, preserving the airy quality of light existing in the cathedral prior to the renovation.

The rose window is a symbolic focus for worshipers on the inside. At the same time, from the exterior it is a beacon to the entire community.

Jim Olson Design Principal

A glass altar screen, or reredos, was installed in front of the west wall to further modulate light and create a small chapel between the screen and the west wall. The altar screen extends 57 feet from floor to ceiling and is made of metal and glass. The abstracted glass rose is a 28-foot-diameter dichroic glass element designed in collaboration with artist Ed Carpenter. The design of the is meant as a contemporary interpretation of traditional symbols.



Design Principal

Jim Olson

Project Manager

Stephen Yamada-Heidner



AIA Northwest and Pacific Region Honor Awards, Merit Award


AIA Seattle Honor Awards, Commendation Award

Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture and AIA, Art & Religious Architecture National Design Award



Waggoner, Shawn. “Spiritual Qualities in Light and Glass: The St. Mark’s Cathedral Renovation.” Glass Art Vol. 18 No. 2, Jan. 2003, 6-11. Print.


“1999 Faith & Form/ IFRAA Urtugical/ Interior Design Award.” Faith & Form, 1999. Print.


Dunn, Dede. “Cathedral Shines At Night.” The Episcopal Voice, May 1998, 1,9. Print.

Enlow, Clair. “More than a window.” Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, 14 Jan. 1998, 3. Print.

Gragg, Randy. “Where Art Meets Architecture.” The Oregonian, 15 March 1998, E1, E8. Print.

Hinshaw, Mark. “Spiritual Spaces.” The Seattle Times, 9 Dec. 1998, F1, F5. Print.

Olson, Sheri. “West Wall, St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle, Washington.” Architectural Record Vol. 186 No. 7, July 1998, 102-104. Print.

Pastier, John. “Coming Full Circle.” Metropolis Magazine, May 1998, 30. Print.


MacDonald, Sally. “A more majestic cathedral.” The Seattle Times, 22 Nov. 1997, A1, A9. Print.

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