Sinai Temple Akiba Academy Expansion

The expansion of the Sinai Temple Akiba Academy required a puzzle-master’s approach to context and program. Any addition had to respond to the strong character of the original buildings, designed in the 1950s and 1970s by Frank Lloyd Wright disciple Sidney Eisenstadt, while packing the constricted site with 60,000 sf of classrooms, a gymnasium, outside play areas, multipurpose rooms, and underground parking for 350 cars. The context required that the new building accommodate a shift in neighborhood scale and character – one side of the building fronts a busy boulevard while the other faces a quiet residential street.

The design responds with a geometric collage that breaks up both the massing and the fenestration while maintaining a consistency of materials, primarily precast concrete. The pavilion facing Beverly Glen – a wide, busy street – is high and assertive. But its orthogonal mass contains preschool classrooms and a gym, which is visible from the street behind translucent panels. Beneath a cantilevered corner, an entrance staircase rises between walls of Jerusalem stone. At one edge of the building the façade is pulled away from the stair core, recalling the folded planes of the original temple while creating outdoor space. The rear pavilion, in contrast, is both smaller in scale and more sculpted, with a bowed roof that responds to Eisenstadt’s geometries. A two-story glass façade faces a podium-level courtyard, with an enclosed playground for the preschoolers. Parking is accommodated on four underground levels, with additional room for pickup and dropoff queueing.

Size 120,000 SF
Location  Los Angeles, California 
Year 1999
Client Sinai Temple