Congregation Emanu-El Master Plan

Beit ha Mikdash

At Congregation Emanu-El, we strive to provide a comfortable, safe space for everyone to enjoy. Our vision is to be the “Beit ha Mikdash” of our community where Jewish worship, study, dialogue, education, and collaboration can flourish – and where a visit can be a transformative spiritual experience.

Our beautiful facilities play an important role in this vision, as evidenced by the upgrades to our Temple House – the building housing our preschool, religious school classrooms, and the Martin Meyer sanctuary – as well as the Main sanctuary, dome, and altar over the past two decades.

Master Plan for Long-Term Visioning

Recently, we started to explore a Master Planning process to upgrade and modernize our buildings – focusing in part on the Atrium Building, which is comprised of the courtyard structure and immediately-adjacent structures along both Lake Street and Arguello Boulevard (built in 1924-1925).

This Master Plan will guide the preservation and enhancement of our historic facility. The plan includes the assessment of the existing physical plant, determination of current and future spatial and functional needs, exploration of opportunities for greater sustainability and energy efficiency, and the evaluation of potential building enhancement opportunities. The plan will propose creative and sensitive architectural solutions to facilitate better alignment between programmatic needs and the facilities which support them.

The Congregation Emanu-El Building Committee was given the charge of hiring an architectural firm to conduct a Master Plan for Temple Emanu-El. We have engaged Gould Evans, a multi-disciplinary firm with deep roots in the San Francisco community and over 30 years of experience assisting religious organizations. The firm’s work with religious and other cultural organizations is deeply collaborative – engaging with all stakeholders to understand the unique history, needs and aspirations of each group with whom they work.  Bob Baum, Principal-in-Charge, and Lauren Maass, Project Manager, are leading the project. As we prepare to more closely examine different ways to meet a host of needs and desires – and more fully develop a long-term Master Plan – we will be looking to our congregation for feedback and ideas on how the facility can best serve our mission. Any major construction plans that might emerge from the Master Planning process would require a significant capital campaign.

More Immediate Work

In beginning the Master Planning process, we also engaged top engineers to help us determine what is feasible for the Master Plan. While the Atrium Building has endured and remained through the 1989 earthquake, the engineers’ review indicated that – like many other buildings of its vintage – this almost-100-year-old building was not designed to today’s seismic standards. They advised that, in its current condition, there is a risk that occupants could be injured or have difficulty exiting the Atrium Building during a major earthquake.

We have worked with engineers and contractors to evaluate and determine what steps should be taken to improve the seismic safety of the Atrium Building, both on an interim basis as well as more permanently. Recently, the engineers and contractors provided recommendations for interim measures including the installation of temporary shoring and catchments to provide a hardened pathway of egress and protection from potential falling hazards in the event of a major earthquake. There is no code requirement to take any action, but in an abundance of caution, the Board of Directors decided to voluntarily proceed with this work in the near term. We anticipate that the work will start in mid-November, or potentially a little sooner, and should conclude by the end of December.

Fortunately, the Temple’s prudent financial management has included set-asides for smaller capital projects – for example, the interim seismic safety enhancements will be funded from these reserves.

Temple Emanu-El will remain open and usable for our members during the installation of these interim measures – and we will be working with contractors to prepare a schedule that minimizes the impact of these changes on our community. Once completed, the temporary shoring and catchments will barely be noticeable and should not mar the beauty of our cherished structure.

Questions? Contact Us.

Please feel free to contact Executive Director David Goldman at (415) 751-2541 or with any questions, concerns, or suggestions. Thank you for your dedication, and commitment to Congregation Emanu-El.


© 2015 Congregation Emanu-El 2 Lake Street, San Francisco, CA 94118
Phone: (415) 751-2535
Fax: (415) 751-2511