Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Frank Lloyd Wright's Beth Sholom Synagogue

Famed building designer Frank Lloyd Wright is known mostly for his work on private homes. He's accredited with having over 500 completed works. His most famous designed home is Fallingwater, located in Western Pennsylvania. Most aren't aware that besides homes he also designed the Guggenheim, and also a synagogue.

In September 1953 Mr. Wright was invited to design a new synagogue for the Beth Shalom congregation. Frank worked with, and had the advice of Rabbi Mortimer Cohen. Together they evoked a design that would give the synagogue the look of a mountain. In 1959 their masterpiece was completed and was deemed a modern day Mt. Sinai. It was the last work Frank Lloyd Wright had completed before his death. It's often heralded as the most expressive design of his illustrious career.

Though Wright is often considered the greatest American architect of all time, he was often too innovative. One of the biggest downfalls to Wright's designs is they often fail structurally. This is mainly attributed to the fact that he was so far ahead of his time. Engineers and builders had to use or create groundbreaking ways for building. Most of the time these ideas would work, a few times they didn't. At one point the Beth Sholom congregation had a kiddie pool in their sanctuary while they dealt with a leaky roof. The roof is what also makes this synagogue so unique. Due to it's transparency it allows natural light in during the day, while glowing at night from the man made electric. The synagogue was deemed a National landmark in 2007, and is one of only 4 in the country.

The name Beth Sholom is Hebrew for house of peace. From the look of the synagogue it seems Frank Lloyd Wright and the Rabbi Cohen were able to exude that right through their design.

Video of Beth Sholom Synagogue
Other nearby Outta the Way places

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