Mammoth structures on rise

Associated Press
Published September 2, 2007

On opposite sides of the country, two enormous architectural feats are under way: A 50,853-square-foot house will be New England's largest occupied single-family home, and a cathedral outside San Francisco will be one of the nation's most ambitious - and expensive - religious sites.

Arnold Chase home

Owner: Arnold Chase, a Hartford businessman.

Location: West Hartford, Conn., on Avon Mountain.

Cost: Unknown.

Architect: Allan Greenberg's architectural firm in New York.

Style: Brick and stucco colonial.

Size: Nearly 50,900 square feet, but only about 17,000 square feet of it lies in plain view. There is also a two-level, 33,500-square-foot basement complex.

Beds and baths: Five bedrooms, eight full bathrooms and five half bathrooms.

Features: 103-seat movie theater, a nearly 4,900-square-foot game room, music annex, 400-square-foot "observatory."

Let's compare: The Chase home will be slightly larger than billionaire Bill Gates' home in Washington state, about 4,000 square feet smaller than the White House and 20 times larger than the average home in America. The only single-family residential structures in New England larger than Chase's are two mansions in Newport, which are now museums. The largest private home ever built in the United States is the Biltmore House in Asheville, N.C., comprising more than 174,000 square feet. Also on the national list is Donald Trump's 80,000-square-foot Maison de l'Amitie in Palm Beach.

Cathedral of Christthe Light

Owner: Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland, Calif.

Location: Oakland.

Cost: $190-million. The cathedral is being financed by donations - just over $100-million pledged as of June.

Architect: Craig Hartman of San Francisco.

Style: More than 1,000 sheets of glass will cloak the Douglas fir skeleton, forming a luminous 12-story dome inspired by the fish shape known as the Vesica Piscis, an ancient symbol of Christianity.

Size: 1,300-seat cathedral. The site will house offices, bishop's residence, a conference center and a garden plaza.

Features: Light is the central focus of the design, intended to bathe visitors in filtered sunshine by day and glowing against an urban backdrop by night.