The architecture of the American Cathedral is based on drawings done by George Edmund Street, a leading architect of the English Gothic Revival style, whose work includes the London Law Courts, the Church of St. James the Less in Westminster and the American Church in Rome.
A chief characteristic of neo-Gothic architecture is integrity of design and materials - Mr. Street called it "ethical architecture" - which meant, in short, that what appears to be a marble column is a marble column and it is where it is for a structural reason. When Mr. Street died in December 1881, before plans had been finalized, the vestry voted to award the work to his son, Arthur E. Street and to Arthur W. Bloomfield. The work of construction was contracted to Henry Lovatt of Wolverhampton, and building was begun in late 1882.
The church is 146 feet in length and 70 feet wide; the nave is 58 feet high, the chancel, 54 feet; the spire, reputed to be the highest in Paris, is 280 feet. The materials are St. Maximin and Savonniere stone and Ancy-le-Franc marble. The floor is Belgian and Italian marble.
The chancel and aisles are vaulted in stone; the nave is vaulted in oak perhaps because in a constricted city area without the possibility of flying buttresses, stone vaulting would have been too heavy to sustain without independent supports.
The fittings and furnishings (for example, the baptismal font, the wrought iron work, the candlesticks, the lectern, the pulpit, and even some of the silver communion services) were also designed by the architects and are therefore in a style consistent and harmonious with the architecture.