MODERN

MODERN

This year marks the centennial of the Bauhaus school.

During its 14-year existence in Germany, it democratized art, architecture, and design.

While its life span was cut short by the forces of the ascendant Nazi Party,

it created a diaspora of faculty and students who left Germany carrying with them the seeds of this movement, which ultimately took root around the world, including in Dallas.

When Temple Emanu-El relocated from South Dallas to its current site in 1957, there was a conscious decision that the new building reflect the modern ideas of its congregation.

While internationally renowned architects such as Eero Saarinen and Eric Mendelsohn were initially considered,

the decision ultimately swiveled to local architects Howard Meyer and Max Sandfield. As Temple Emanu-El members, they knew the needs of the community firsthand.

They also had broad experience with contemporary architectural trends. From the beginning, the inclusion of art was embedded in the building’s DNA.

The architects tapped Hungarian-born artist and art theorist György Kepes to serve as the art coordinator.

Kepes’ aesthetic was formed in part through his connection to Hungarian compatriot and former Bauhaus professor László Moholy-Nagy.

Together, Meyer, Sandfield, and Kepes combined regionalism with Bauhaus ideas to construct a Modernist masterpiece.

The result, says Jon Rollins, a principal at GFF Architects, “is straightforward, unabashedly modern Texas regionalist architecture.”

Temple member Rollins played an active role on the committees that brought the newest addition to fruition.

Kepes was tasked with creating visual harmony, particularly in Olan Sanctuary, the primary worship space.

“Kepes was interested in how material forms can make people comfortable in their environments,”

says Charissa Terranova, architectural historian and associate professor of visual and performing

Arts at the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at the University of Texas at Dallas.

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