Anat Geva: The Architecture of Modern American Synagogues


3835 Campus Drive
Architecture Building (145 ARC)
College Park, MD 20742
United States

Interior of a synagogue with white curved walls
Exterior of a pyramid-shaped synagogue
This lecture is part of the Fall 2024 Architecture Lecture + Event Series. The lecture is open to the public; workshops are for the MAPP Community only.

LECTURE - 10/23  |  4:30 - 6 p.m.  |  Auditorium 

WORKSHOP - 10/23   |  2 - 4 p.m.  | ARCH 401 


Anat Geva, 
Professor emeritus, Texas A+M University

About the lecture:

The Architecture of Modern American Synagogues, 1950s–1960s offers a fresh perspective on an important moment in American Jewish society and culture as reflected in their houses of worship and adds to the literature on modern American sacred architecture. The book attempts to decipher the synagogue’s architectural design as a reflection of the intersection of post WWII Jewish religious/cultural identity; the move to the suburb; and modern design and building technology concepts. Examples include Park Synagogue, Cleveland Ohio (1953), designed by Eric Mendelsohn; Beth Sholom Synagogue, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania (1956), designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; North Shore Congregation Israel Synagogue, Glencoe, Illinois (1964), designed by Minoru Yamasaki; and more. The design of the synagogues departed from traditional concepts, embraced modernism and innovations in building technology, evolved in abstraction of architectural forms and details, and included Jewish art in the new synagogues. In addition, the book contributes to the discourse on preserving the recent past (e.g., mid 20th century architecture) introducing modifications and adaptations as a function of changes in demographics, faith rituals, building codes, and energy conservation. Examples include Temple Oheb Shalom, Baltimore, Maryland (1957), designed by Walter Gropius and Sheldon Leavitt; Temple Mount Sinai Synagogue, El Paso, Texas (1962), designed by Sidney Eisenshtat; and more.


About the speaker:

Anat Geva holding a book

Dr. Anat Geva, a registered architect in Israel and Associate Member of the AIA, is Professor Emeritus of Architecture in Texas A&M University and the 2020 College of Architecture Outstanding Alumni. She taught design studios; history/design of sacred architecture; history of building technology; and historic preservation. She published many articles and 5 books: Frank Lloyd Wright Sacred Architecture: Faith, Form, and Building Technology (Routledge, 2012); Modernism and American Mid-20th Century Sacred Architecture (Routledge, 2019); and Israel Architecture as an Experimental Lab for Modern Architecture: 1948-1978 with Inbal Ben Asher-Gitler (Intellect Books, 2020); Water and Sacred Architecture (Routledge, 2023); and The Architecture of Modern American Synagogues, 1950s–1960s (TAMU Press, 2023). She also has an extensive record of editorial work: being a co-editor of Arris- the journal of the Southeast Society of Architectural Historians, and the founder and co-editor of Preservation Education & Research. She is a recipient of several awards and research grants including the prestigious James Marston Fitch National Award for innovative research in historic preservation. 

Program / Center Affiliation