The gorgeous, ornate Wilshire Boulevard Temple--known for its long connection to the entertainment industry--has been getting a much-publicized freshening; it's been closed for nearly two years and is set to reopen for High Holy Day services next week. Architect Brenda Levin, a member of the congregation, oversaw the work, which included a complete and thorough restoration of the incredible sanctuary dome and its oculus, as well as the murals depicting Jewish history (originally funded by the Warner Brothers and painted by set designer Hugo Ballin), the 24-foot-diameter stained glass window at the back of the sanctuary, the 30-foot-long spicebox chandeliers, and the enormous organ (which has been called "the most important organ in the West by people who know about organs). The mechanical systems were all upgraded and the altar was lowered and made more accessible.
This is just phase one for the synagogue plan. A new courtyard is already in the works and money's been raised for some serious art installations--there'll be benches by Jenny Holzer and a piece by Marina Abramovic. Then the WBT will restore its 1929 and 1962 school buildings, and add a six-story building along Sixth Street with parking, social services for the surrounding community, and rooftop recreation.
· Building Lives [Wilshire Boulevard Temple]