Beth Sholom Synagogue (1954), Elkins Park, Pennsylvania

Beth Sholom SynagogueMany critics consider Beth Sholom Synagogue in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania to be Wright’s most expressive house of worship. Concrete walls incorporating the foundation buttresses anchor the structure to the ground. Three steel tripod girders support the steeply inclined walls, allowing the full upper floor freedom from internal supports. Translucent layers of wire glass and plastic with insulating air space between them create the woven walls of the sanctuary. During the day, natural light entering through the translucent walls overhead illuminates the sanctuary. At night, the entire building glows from interior artificial lighting.
Beth Sholom Synagogue
Wright described the building as a “luminous Mount Sinai.” He designed the structural and decorative elements of the building to reinforce its relationship to Jewish ceremony and events of the Jewish faith. It is said that the sanctuary of Beth Sholom Synagogue demonstrates Wright’s “unmatched capacity to translate ritual into space and experience.”
Beth Sholom Synagogue, drawing

Perspective drawing of Beth Sholom Synagogue, 1954. Copyright © the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

For more about Beth Sholom Synagogue, see Beth Sholom Synagogue Preservation Foundation.

References: Frank Lloyd Wright by Robert McCarter, ©1997 Phaidon Press Limited; Frank Lloyd Wright: A Gatefold Portfolio by Robin Langley Sommer, ©1997 Barnes & Noble Books Inc.

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