Once I stood in front of this marvelous facade, I did believe.
On my way to Philadelphia, I decided to stop by the only synagogue designed by Frank Lloyd Wright – a singular and almost awkward building that erects from a little hill in the middle of the vast residential suburb of Elkins Park.
Built in the 50’s and mistakenly judged as an example of the “Mayan Revival” architecture style (can anyone explain me what does that mean in the XX century?), this synagogue is the most astonishing Wright’s creation I’ve ever seen. The steep roof is made out of translucent fiberglass panels that allow sunlight come in during the day and artificial lighting come out at night, transforming the triangle-shaped building into a beacon.
Light as the main character of a church, as well expressed by Glenn Murcutt in his recent lecture at the Cooper Union – its historical and cultural meaning, its chromatic quality, its power to invoke introspection, reflection or illumination, its rhythm, its intangible value. The Beth Sholom Congregation made me feel odd at a first glance, suspicious later and eventually a certain familiarity and warmth that I can’t really describe. Therefore, I highly recommend its visit and getting into the central space in order to understand what I’m talking about 🙂
From Hebrew, Beth Sholom means House of Peace.