The Loop Synagogue

Superior Essays
In the midst of a new era of development in Chicago, the firm Loebl, Schlossman & Bennett was commissioned to reconstruct the Loop Synagogue in 1957 (Figure 1) after the original building was lost to a fire. In order to reflect modern industrial life and provide a functional space within the transitioning city, the synagogue was designed to incorporate contemporary aspects in both the exterior and interior of the building, which is expressed through the materials and the layout. Additionally, implementation of the smaller, ornate details of the building were decisions made by the firms in order to provide a “planned experience” for visitors that would maintain traditional religious aspects. This arrangement would ultimately create a fusion …show more content…
As a result of the shortage of funding associated with the Great Depression and World War II, the decades prior to the construction of the temple were characterized by stunted architectural growth and reform. However, the 1950’s marked the beginning of an evolution in Chicago architecture, which would be a dramatic contrast to the two previous decades. When Richard J. Daley began his 21-year office as Mayor of Chicago, he undoubtedly urged corporations and political offices to be centered in the Loop. The burst in both population and traffic is made evident by Roger Biles, as he states, “ In 1958, for the first time since 1930, the amount of downtown office space increased by more than one million square feet- an achievement duplicated in 1961 and 1963.” Along with the surge of new workers came an influx of automobiles and a new road building program in order to compensate for the traffic. Chicago’s downtown was rapidly expanding as a result of the intense development that Daley had concentrated in the area. This change in the city’s landscape became a factor to be considered for Loebl, Schlossman & Bennett when planning the synagogue, as they envisioned it being a functional and popular space in its urban …show more content…
Bennett was commissioned to construct the new building because one of the main problems found during the planning stage was that the space was inadequate for hosting the increasing number of workers that visited it. His previous work for the West Suburban Synagogue was in the interest of the commissioners, and they wanted him to replicate the planning of the structure in downtown. However, Bennett claimed they wouldn’t be able to build the synagogue downtown, due to the limited space that was provided for him. Nevertheless, he was hired and tasked with finding a solution that would be able to seat many people in a space that was only forty feet wide. The resulting plan was to place the auditorium on the second floor, as the auditorium would not be able to seat a copious amount of people on the lower floor due to a majority of the area being taken up by the lobby and hallways (Figure 2). Additionally, constructing a staircase was rejected because the older men who came for the service would be unable to make it to the upper floors, and an elevator was rejected because the church would not be able to “turn on electricity on the Sabbath,” due to restrictions based on Conservative Judaism principles., The copious number of restrictions when planning the building was a major inconvenience when

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