OMA Unveils Dramatic New Community Center for Historic Temple in L.A.

Designed for the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, the trapezoidal Audrey Irmas Pavilion references and respects its historic neighbors.

OMA Synagogue Los Angeles
The Audrey Irmas Pavilion. Courtesy OMA New York

Just in time for Passover, OMA has unveiled its design for a new cultural center for Los Angeles’s historic Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Called the Audrey Irmas Pavilion, OMA’s dramatic building will provide a new landmark along the city’s main thoroughfare, while providing an essential new space for the surrounding community.

The Audrey Irmas Pavilion design is the result of a 2015 competition. OMA New York partner Shohei Shigematsu called the firm’s design solution an “active gesture.” In an announcement released today, he continued, “We wanted to focus on communicating the energy of gathering and exchange.”

This energy will be expressed through the building’s abstract form and the way in which visitors will eventually move through it. OMA‘s most significant move was to lean the monolithic white volume respectfully away from the existing 1929 Byzantine Revival temple (one of the oldest and most famous synagogues in L.A.) and over Wilshire Boulevard. Within, visitors will encounter new spaces and views as they weave through three stacked, interlocking layers that will feature flexible events spaces and a sunken rooftop garden.

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The Pavilion may physically veer away from the temple, but it incorporates references to the original throughout. The new building’s arched entryway will echo the silhouette of the temple’s grand, Pantheon-inspired dome. Its facade, meanwhile, will be composed of hexagonal elements punctured by irregularly-oriented rectangular windows, an homage to the synagogue’s ornate coffered ceiling.

The building will be “active” in more ways than one: situated in the heart of Koreatown, the Audrey Irmas Pavilion is part of the temple’s ongoing efforts to reach the area’s wider community, one of L.A.’s most diverse neighborhoods.

“In a city so large and diverse, we need community, and we need inspiring, welcoming places,” said the temple’s rabbi Steve Leder. “Los Angeles deserves a modern masterpiece devoted to bringing people together.”

You might also like, “Houses of the Holy: Foster + Partners Reveals Chapel Design for Vatican’s First-Ever Venice Biennale Pavilion.” 

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