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Temple Emanu-El

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1957, Howard R. Meyer; 2016 renovation and Stern Chapel addition, Cunningham Architects. 8500 Hillcrest Ave.

Founded in 1874, Temple Emanu-El was the first Reform Jewish congregation in North Texas and is now the largest synagogue in the South. This is the congregation’s fourth temple and the first in this location (see DS92). Meyer and associate architect Max Sandfield were selected after the congregation rejected a scheme by German-immigrant architect Eric Mendelsohn on a site in the Arts District. William Wurster, hired as chief consultant, recommended that a large, simple form be used to house all the varied functions of the temple. The sanctuary was distinguished within this shape as a large, domed cylinder. Glazed walkways enclosing courts of oaks and trees screened the synagogue from the two busy streets.

An exposed concrete frame modulates the long primary shape with exposed columns and a deep overhanging flat roof. Walls between the columns are a warm, rose brick. The same exposed treatment is used for the sanctuary cylinder as it rises above the rectangle, except that the columns are deeper, casting stronger shadows. Brick is also used for interior walls of the rectangle, reinforcing the sense of enclosure. Except for the curved brick wall at the front, the interior cylindrical walls are vertical wood slats.

Meyer collaborated with artists to enhance the sacred places. Former Bauhaus teacher Gyorgy Kepes, then at MIT, inserted strips of colored glass into the brick mortar joints for a remarkable glittering effect. Textile artist and former Bauhaus teacher Anni Albers, then at Black Mountain College, wove the doors and curtain of the ark, and sculptor Richard Filipowski designed lights and menorahs.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.


What's Nearby


Gerald Moorhead et al., "Temple Emanu-El", [Dallas, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Texas

Buildings of Texas: East, North Central, Panhandle and South Plains, and West, Gerald Moorhead and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019, 172-172.

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