A Reimagined Sanctuary
The Temple Israel project in Long Beach was a renovation of a 1940s structure that had not been touched since the 1960s when a school addition was built. The goal was to modernize the building to serve the temple and its congregation for decades to come. The design team made a great effort to honor the past by saving many important artifacts from the original building portions of the stained glass windows, collections of Judaic artifacts, the sculpture from the main lobby, and the many Yotzheit and donor plaques.
The spatial organization of the building was modified to improve flow. The exterior and interior of the building were enhanced with a clean palate of materials, their evocative use adding a sophisticated quality.
The sanctuary ceiling was reimagined as an abstract representation of the Tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl signifying shelter and comfort. The pattern on the Tallit, an undulating rhythm of lines, inspired the detail for the ceiling.
The sanctuary, which was isolated from the rest of the facility, became the spiritual and social heart of the building. It was reoriented to face east in honor of the Jewish tradition. The windows were layered with a bronze sculpture that symbolically represents the tree of life as it grows from the ground towards the sky.