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Christ Cathedral construction crews celebrate 100,000 accident-free work hours

Work continuses inside the baptistry at Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove on Friday, May 11.
Workers continue renovating inside the baptistry at Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove on May 11.
(Kevin Chang / TimesOC)

Early in the morning on a recent Friday, construction workers dressed in hard hats and reflective vests passed by signs with slogans reminding crew members to remain alert.

“God blesses the work of your hands — take care of them.”

“Wear your safety gear at all times — your guardian angel can’t do it all.”

Tied to metal fencing, the markers represent a commitment to safety at Christ Cathedral, where construction continues for the $72.3-million renovation project that is on track to be dedicated July 17, 2019.

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“We’ve made remarkable progress,” said Richard Heim, constitution advisor, as he walked the cathedral’s grounds on May 11. “Today, we’re thanking each one for their safety record.”

The towering, glass-paned building in Garden Grove that was once home to Crystal Cathedral, will become the spiritual campus to more than 1.3 million Orange County Catholics. This month, the Diocese celebrated the 112-person crew’s milestone of 100,000 work hours in 10 months without accidents.

Members of the construction crew were shown appreciation with a Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que lunch with Bishop Kevin Vann thanking them for their labor.

There’s much more construction to be finished on the 78,000-square-foot cathedral, Heim said, but the completed work is on schedule to open as a worship space for the Diocese of Orange — among the fastest-growing dioceses in the United States.

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For nearly three months, crews built a structure out of a million pounds of scaffolding in order to reach the cathedral’s inner glass walls. They painted and cleaned all 10,000 glass windows and trusses, and installed fire sprinklers, lighting and quatrefoil panels.

The panels not only help aesthetically but serve a purpose by filtering UV rays. The material also ensures that no matter where a visitor sits, the temperature is 72 degrees or less, said Greg McClure, senior superintendent of Snyder Langston, the Irvine-based general contractor selected to complete the renovation.

Preparations continue for the installation of the new main cathedral doors. The existing entrances — conceptualized by architect Philip Johnson for Crystal Cathedral — were lowered for design purposes so that upon walking in, a worshiper would look up and marvel at the soaring ceiling height, Heim said.

Christ Cathedral will install new doors, weighing about 7,000 pounds and standing 10 feet tall, in late summer.

Crews also made technological advancements by installing air conditioning units, two elevators and three panel screens so Masses can be streamed across EWTN Global Catholic Television Network.

The renovated cathedral will seat more than 2,000 people.

kathleen.luppi@latimes.com

Twitter: @KathleenLuppi

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