Herman Coliver Locus Architecture

Culver City, California

In Judaism, physical and temporal thresholds possess particular significance. They mark the connection and separation between the everyday and the sacred.

An asphalt driveway, along a busy street, served as the pedestrian path to the synagogue’s original front door. Inside, the hexagonal but windowless sanctuary was devoid of light and spirit. The architect was asked to create a welcoming and ceremonial path to the front door, an inviting outdoor gathering space and a lobby and sanctuary imbued with meaning. The senior rabbi dreamed of spaces filled with “meditative exuberance.”

As the synagogue is located on a boulevard roaring with passing cars and trucks, it was important to shield outdoor circulation and gathering spaces from traffic noise and the view of vehicles. A series of walls, vertical fountain, and layered entry sequence provide the space and time to shift one’s thoughts away from the quotidian transactions of daily life.

In Temple Akiba’s renovated sanctuary, the congregation is surrounded by a translucent veil, intimating a sacred community. The space between the translucent surround, evocative of a prayer shawl, and the hexagonal perimeter, with its new, projecting, colored windows, is a liminal space glowing with ever-changing light.

Jury Comments

This project transformed a rather dull, drab, dark box into a very animated and iconic form that introduces light into a spiritual place for the community. The amount of daylight is wonderful. It’s a consistent renovation in terms of the use of light and color.

Project Team Members

Herman Coliver Locus Architecture Team:
Principal-in-Charge: Steven Rajninger, AIA
Senior Project Manager: Jonas Weber, AIA, Dragana Monson
Job Captain: Emma Ramoy, AIA
Judaica Design: Steven Rajninger, Jonas Weber, Micol Biagioni, Emma Ramoy
Modeling: Jonas Weber, Karim Hammad
Community Outreach: Susie Coliver, Steven Rajninger

Temple Akiba Renovation Building Committee: Rabbi Zachary Shapiro, Cantor Lonee Frailich, Michael Bauer (Chair), Judy Bauer, Carol Diamond, Ira Diamond, Todd Eichenberger, Bob Knopf, Howard Lichtman, Cathy Penso, Steve Quinn, Ed Wolkowitz, Hal Rice, Jay Swerdlow

General Contractor: Badraun Builders

Project Consultants

Parker Resnick, Structural Engineer
Stantec MEP, Engineer
Mark Tessier Landscape Architecture, Landscape Architect
Architectural Lighting Design, Lighting Designer
Newson Brown Acoustics, Acoustical Engineer
Media Systems Design Group, Audio-Visual Consultant
Emily Hagopian, Photography