Skip to Content
St. Mark's Catherdral.  Seattle, Washington. Image license: Olson Kundig Architects, Spectrum and St. Mark’s Catherdral. © Copyright 2018 Benjamin Benschneider All Rights Reserved. Third party use may be arranged by contacting Benjamin Benschneider Photography. Email:
Photo: Benjamin Benschneider

St. Mark’s Cathedral Expansion and Renovation

Seattle, Washington

St. Mark’s Cathedral Expansion and Renovation

Seattle, Washington

  • Design Principal (Phase 1 and 2)

    Jim Olson

  • Design Principal (Phase 2)

    Tom Kundig

  • Design Principal (Phase 2)

    Kevin Kudo-King

Since 1997, Olson Kundig has worked with St. Mark’s Cathedral to expand, remodel and preserve their church located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Originally constructed in 1928, the cathedral remained only partially complete for decades as it underwent a series of gradual updates. The most recent improvements in 2018, particularly to the exterior, bring the cathedral to completion, lending a sense of visual unity and cohesion that embodies St. Mark’s mission of community service and accessibility.

Improvements such as new windows and updates to the building envelope helped to increase the building’s energy efficiency and mitigate noise transfer from outside. A revised entry terrace and a new elevator now mean that St. Mark’s is completely accessible by all community members. Exterior updates including new Indiana limestone cladding match the original façade materials and complete the original design intent. A new Gaelic cross above the east entrance mirrors the interior glass altar screen, or reredos, which was designed by Olson Kundig in collaboration with artist Ed Carpenter in 1997. These modifications, along with an expansion of the entry terrace, provide a more permanent and welcoming identity for St. Mark’s, preserving the cathedral for generations to come.

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, FAIA




Grant, Rick, and Lara Swimmer. Inspired: Churches of Seattle. Seattle: Documentary Media, Sept. 2013, 2, 68-71. Book.


Crosbie, Michael J. Houses of God: Religious Architecture for a New Millenium. Victoria: Images Publishing, Aug. 2006, 28-31, 100-101, 166-167. Book.


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, May 1998, 30. Print.


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