Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

Synagogue Architecture Exhibition

The Jewish Museum

New York, New York

October 6,1963 - December 8, 1963

The simple purpose of this exhibition was to ask a fundamental question: What is the synagogue, and in what architectural idiom can it be stated in the modern world? We tried to demonstrate the existence of a fascinating and pervasive process, that is, the emergence in contemporary America of a new spirit in religious architecture, the final definition of which lies somewhere in the future.

Famed architects presented in the exhibit include Pietro Belluschi, Marcel Breuer, Philip Johnson, Louis Kahn, Eric Mendelsohn, Minoru Yamasaki, and Frank Lloyd Wright. None of the buildings that were exhibited here in drawings, photographs and models were intended to exploit historical sentimentalism dependent on tangible reminders of the past. They all have a number of significant elements in common. They all expressed a viable continuity with the time in which they have been designed and share historical antecedents. Their character and spirit was determined by the way in which the most important architectural fundamentals had been handled, that is, the way space was manipulated and the way light was controlled. They were all concerned with the traditional requirements of the synagogue including the placement of the ark, bimah, and congregation, the atmosphere created by this disposition, and the symbolic forms with evoke and reinforce that atmosphere.