Case Study: Leo Baeck Temple

Leo Baeck Temple, 1300 N Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90049

Architect: Architecture 350; Playa Del Rey, CA
Skylight/Lightwall System- engineer/fabricator: EXTECH/Exterior Technologies, Inc.
Photography: Barry Schwartz Photography

Among the Velvet Ash and Lupines of southern California’s San Fernando Valley sits the Leo Baeck Temple, a Jewish community center that offers a campus for prayer services, learning, and gathering to members of Los Angeles’ Jewish population. It plays home to preschool classes, organizing for social justice, and musical performances.

Atop the campus center atrium sits a skylight, roughly 8 feet tall and 145 feet around. Made of translucent polycarbonate that transmits an ethereal glow, it is a complex application due to its many and varied angles. During the design process, the architect wanted the skylight to look almost like a gem that floated above the space. To achieve that diamond-like look, a great deal of precision was required on EXTECH’s part.

EXTECH’s LIGHTWALL 3440 tongue and groove translucent wall system was chosen for this application due to its high-impact resistance and ability to be customized to the structure. One difficult engineering aspect was getting facets to match the face of the steel structure to which the system would attach. Close collaboration with the architect was necessary to guarantee a seamless integration. As part of the shop drawing and fabrication process, EXTECH ensured a weather-tight building envelope by pre-fabricating all the corner miters and sloped head/sill/jamb conditions to exact angles before shipping to the job site. This was a quality control measure that guaranteed each piece of the roof cap would fit precisely without the need for field measuring and cutting, substantially accelerating the installation process.

The finished skylight delivered on the architect’s vision of an illuminated floating gem. Not only did it achieve the desired aesthetic, but the 100% recyclability and daylighting properties of the polycarbonate adhered to the Leo Baeck Temple’s environmental standards. Within the center’s atrium, sunlight streams and provides energy-efficient daylighting for congregant activities and concerts. Additionally, the diffused translucency of the skylight limits the glare that impacts the temple’s neighbors on the hill.

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