Los Angeles, California, USA
Led by Shohei Shigematsu and his team at OMA and with LA associates Gruen Architects and landscape architects Studio-MLA, the Audrey Irmas Pavilion is the new addition to the Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s Glazer Family Campus that will serve as a multi-purpose event space for both the congregation and the surrounding city.
The pavilion will be a gathering place, forging new connections with the existing campus activities and inviting the urban realm into the new civic anchor.
The Audrey Irmas Pavilion for the Wilshire Boulevard Temple marks OMA’s first cultural building in the city.
It is also the firm’s first religious institution.
Religious institutions have always played a critical role in civic life as places for communal activities in and out of worship.
The temple’s vision for its campus was to create a space to host the multiple ways in which people convene.
How can the new pavilion harness the energy of gathering that is simultaneously respectful to
historic traditions and reflective of modern civic needs?
The pavilion is designed to be a machine for gathering, forging new connections with the existing campus activities, and inviting the urban realm in to create a new civic anchor.
OMA wanted the building to be iconic enough to be recognized as a new civic entity but subtle enough to complement the iconic of the existing temple.
The approach is simple yet contextual.
The starting point was a box: the all-too-generic model for an event space.
The basic box is shaped with forms out of respect to the adjacent historical buildings on the campus.
On the west side, the building slopes away from the existing temple, creating a thoughtful buffer and framing a new courtyard between the two buildings.
The pavilion leans south, away from the historic school, opening an existing courtyard to the sky and bringing light in.
The parallelogram simultaneously reaches out toward the main urban corridor, Wilshire Boulevard, to establish a new urban presence.
The resulting form is carved by its relationship to its neighbors.
It is both enigmatic and familiar, creating a counterpoint to the temple that is at once deferential and forward-looking.
The facade draws from the geometries of the temple’s dome interior.
A single hexagon unit with a rectangular window is rotated to reflect the program within and aggregated to create a distinct pattern.
The panels enhance the building’s volumetric character while adding a human-scaled texture that breaks down its mass.
Event spaces often sacrifice character for flexibility.
Here, flexibility is provided through diversity in scale and spatial characters for gathering.
The pavilion consists of three distinct gathering spaces expressed as voids punctured through the building—the main event space (large), a chapel and terrace (medium), and a sunken garden (small).
The three spaces are interlocked and stacked one atop another to establish vantage points in and out of each space.
Within each space are a series of openings that filter light and frame views to the temple and historic school, reorienting visitors to the complex and beyond.
At the ground level, the main event space echoes the temple dome by lowering the arc and extruding it north across the site to connect Wilshire Boulevard to the school courtyard.
In its full length, the vaulted, column-free expanse has the capacity to host diverse programs such as banquets, markets, conventions, performances, and art events.
An oculus provides a view through the void above to the dome of the historic temple.
On the second level is a more intimate chapel and outdoor terrace.
The trapezoidal room and terrace face west, framing the arched stained glass windows of the historic temple.
A third void is a sunken garden that connects smaller meeting rooms on the third floor to the rooftop event space with expansive views of Los Angeles, the Hollywood sign, and the mountains to the north.
Together, the voids establish a diverse collection of spaces for multiple purposes—from sermons and studies to b’nai and b’not mitzvah and concerts, to work and relaxation.
Project: Audrey Irmas Pavilion
Architects: Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)
Partner In Charge: Shohei Shigematsu
Competition Team Partner In Collaboration: Jason Long and Rem Koolhaas
Design Team: Jake Forster, Jesse Catalano, David Chacon, Caroline Corbett, Nils Sanderson, Andrea
Zalewski, Natasha Trice, Marie Claude Fares, Wesley LeForce, Sandy Yum, Jade Kwong, Shary Tawil, and Joanne Chen
Competition Team: Yusef Ali Dennis, Caroline Corbett, Sandy Yum, Sang Woo Kim, Nicholas Solakian, and Stavros Voskaris
Architects of Record: Gruen Architects
Landscape Architects: Studio-MLA
Client: Wilshire Boulevard Temple
Photographers: Jason O Rea