Saturday, September 7, 2013

Modern Architecture and Bad Bathrooms: Wright's Beth Shalom Synagogue, Philadelphia

That the bathroom is the most important room in any building is self-evident. Consequently, for modern architects to so studiously ignore it is a crime. Here in California the Salk Institute is a perfect example; I haven't been in enough of the prolific William Pereira's buildings to pass judgment (but here's more on them.)

In 1997 when I still lived in Philadelphia I was on a Frank Lloyd Wright kick and the Philadelphia synagogue Beth Shalom is a Wright building. In fact it was one of his last; it was started while he was alive but he died during the construction, in 1959. It's actually a bit garish and uber-Mayan; I wonder if the guys who wrote the script for Ghostbusters got the idea for the Gozer-building from this thing. That said, the worship space is pretty nice (third picture is looking up).

Of course I wouldn't be posting this if I weren't going to complain about the bathrooms, tiny, consistent with another famous Wright, Falling Water. Look at this! For that gigantic facility, there are 2 (two) stalls in the single men's room! I guess no one ever has to defecate in the presence of Yahweh?

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