Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects Inc.

Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects Inc.

Stanley Saitowitz
Natoma Architects Inc.

Beth El Synagogue

La Jolla, CA


'According to the vision that Hashem showed Moses, so did he make the Menorah'.

The Menorah is the representation of the unchanging and unified divine world. It is the emanation of light. The Menorah is the thematic image for the Beth El Buildings.

The plan optimizes the difficult existing topography, filling the valley with an entry turnaround and parking platform . An elevator rises from this level, arriving at the plaza, and connecting to the sanctuary gallery. This new court, formed between the existing structures and the new sanctuary, is the focus of the congregation.
This empty space is the connective space where the community gathers. All activities of the campus lead from this court of arrival.

The lobby of the main sanctuary, on the east side of the court, has a two story roof above. In it are traditional elements interpreted in the language of the design: a Tzedakah box, four slots embedded in a column, clocks to announce service times, kippah and talit receptacles, hand washing, and bookshelves.

The sanctuary is a box of light protected by pared thick concrete columns alternating with voids and glass, creating the image of minorah. On the glass columns, the Five Books of Tehillim (Psalms) are inscribed, providing a rich calligraphy tapestry of meaning. The interior evokes the atmosphere of warmth and security using colors that are traditional; gold, purple, maroon and blue. The furniture is dark walnut. Stars of light emanate from menorahs. Two galleries float in the space, providing additional seating on an upper level.

In the plaza, edged with landscape, a Huppah of four poles holds a Star of David in the sky. This is the center for wedding ceremonies and outdoor services.

The existing social hall, offices and school building have arcades added to their facades to unify the complex around the court into a singular community of buildings.