Wilshire Boulevard Temple

Location

Los Angeles, CA

Owner

Wilshire Boulevard Temple

Architect

Levin & Associates Architects

Construction Manager / Owner's Rep

Searock Stafford CM

When a piece of plaster fell from a crumbling coffered ceiling into the sanctuary, leaders of the 1929-vintage Wilshire Boulevard Temple seized the chance to restore to the building to its former glory. With a 100 ft diameter concrete outer dome 110 ft tall, the steel-framed temple utilized cast-in-place concrete walls and floor, precast concrete, marble and granite. The octagonal sanctuary featured a coffered ceiling, striking bronze “spice box” chandeliers and a series of murals, commissioned by Warner Bros. co-founder Jack Warner and painted by Hugo Ballin, depicting the story of the Jewish people. Temple leaders brought in Brenda Levin, FAIA, and MATT Construction to accomplish a restoration that would lure its congregation back from West L.A., and inspire other neighbood improvements. Levin’s plan addressed deterioration and historical restoration; seismic strengthening; and historically sensitive modernization. Every surface and material was inspected and documented. Repair procedures were developed to address the widespread deterioration. Where repair was not possible, appropriate alternatives were used.

Restoration: Outside, calcified-gray bands of marble were returned to their original black and white color. The delaminating base plinth stone was replaced with black granite. The yellowish building exterior was carefully stripped and repainted its original tan. Stained glass windows were removed for repair by famed Judson Studios. Leaks in the dome were eliminated with a new waterproofing system. Within the building, all interior finishes and fixtures are being restored by experts to their original condition. The nearly 2,000 seats will be removed, re-upholstered, and reinstalled over new carpeting.

Seismic Assessment and Strengthening: To brace the interior dome, steel columns were inserted between the high tripartite windows on the east and west. The low part of the roof encompassing the dome was reinforced with carbon fiber. Because the very heavy dome sitting atop a steel-framed drum rendered the interior octagon potentially vulnerable, four new shotcrete shear walls were inserted from the basement to the top of the drum.