© Bob Swanson
© Bob Swanson
© Bob Swanson
© Bob Swanson

Temple Emanu-El

San Francisco, California

Designed by Arthur Brown, Jr., architect for San Francisco’s City Hall, War Memorial Opera House and War Memorial Veterans’ Building, Temple Emanu-El was dedicated in 1926. Drawing inspiration from the famous Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Brown created a venue which features a 150-foot domed ceiling, colonnade and large arches; this innovative design was awarded the American Institute of Architects (AIA) award in 1927. The facility provides a dramatic venue for worship, wedding ceremonies, musical events and lectures, in addition to adult, youth and family education.

Auerbach Pollock Friedlander provided theatre consulting for the renovation of the 1,700-seat Main Sanctuary and the 250-seat Martin Meyer Sanctuary. The firm designed an oculus in the dome to house the theatrical lighting. This provided an opportunity to conceal all the theatrical lighting positions. The lighting for the ark and bimah, as well as key architectural elements with theatrical sources, created an effective focus for the services.

The Martin Meyer Sanctuary was renovated as a theatre that could easily be converted into a worship space with rotating stage panels and a portable bimah and Torah ark. The flexibility of converting from sanctuary to theatre was accomplished while maintaining a worship environment that transforms into an intimate theatre. Theatrical systems included an overhead pipe grid, stage extension and lighting controls.

Architect: RMW Architecture & Interiors
Acoustics: Paoletti/Lewitz Associates
Cost: $12,000,000
Completion: sanctuary 1991; entire building 1992