Stephen S. Wise Temple
Los Angeles, CA
In collaboration with Laurie Gross Studios and sculptor Brian Beebe, we transformed the main raised ark platform--the Bimah--of the synagogue to enhance its visual presence to become central and to create an integration of the worship environment.
By utilizing rich materials, symbolism, and color, we addressed the issues of access--visually, physically, and spiritually. We created a concave curved wall whose depth embraces the room and sets the position of the new Ark, becoming the backdrop for the other design elements. The primary materials used were cast metal, sheet metal, etched glass, and Jerusalem stone. The theme of the original Ark, Jacob and His Journey, was maintained: Jacob's ladder to heaven in the gates, the three Jerusalem stone panels referring to the rock upon which Jacob slept as the pillar of three stones set up to mark the holy place. Jacob's words "How Awesome is the Place" and "This is None Other than the Gateway to Heaven" appear on either side of the Eternal Light and on the etched glass wall of the Ark interior.
We transformed the storage areas behind the curved walls into Sacred Memorial Spaces which were needed by the growing congregation for additional memorial plaques. The plaque system incorporates etched glass, maple wood, and fibre optics.