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Beth Sholom Synagogue: Frank Lloyd Wright and Modern Religious Architecture Hardcover – December 15, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 736 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (December 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226761401
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226761404
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.7 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,186,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“One of the few authentic scholars in the field of Wright studies, Joseph Siry has once again made a major contribution to our understanding of the architect’s ideas and buildings. Set in the context of Wright’s designs for religious architecture, Siry’s brilliant, clear, and thoroughly documented monograph is the definitive work on the magisterial Beth Sholom synagogue. This beautifully written book is indispensable for our grasp of the architect’s late work.”

(Anthony Alofsin, University of Texas)

“The brilliance of this study of Frank Lloyd Wright’s religious architecture lies in Siry’s explication of the architect’s intensive early exposure to the discourses on identity, faith, and its architectural representation among progressive Jewish and Protestant intellectuals at the end of the nineteenth century. By embedding detailed descriptive analyses of Wright’s subsequent religious architecture in an exhaustively researched social history, Siry significantly deepens our understanding and appreciation of the buildings.”

(Jack Quinan, SUNY, University at Buffalo)

“This monumental study significantly broadens our understanding of Wright’s work. The importance of Beth Sholom becomes clear through Siry’s richly detailed, deep analysis that places the building within the context of Wright’s other designs for religious buildings, their diverse sources, and the philosophical beliefs that underlie them. Siry sets a high standard for Wright scholarship.”

(David G. De Long, University of Pennsylvania David G. DeLong, University of Pennsylvania)

“Siry’s compelling book is a superb study of Wright and the only synagogue he designed. Meticulously researched and brilliantly written, this single volume places Beth Sholom into a broad context that illuminates the development of twentieth-century American religious architecture and Wright’s critical place in it. This is the rare work that blends extraordinary scholarship with a clear narrative. Siry provides not only telling insights into the working relationship between the architect and the congregation’s rabbi but also profound analysis of the role of Reconstructionist Jewish thought on the meaning of the building.”

(Susan G. Solomon, author of Louis I. Kahn’s Jewish Architecture: Mikveh Israel and the Midcentury American Synagogue Susan G. Solomon, author of "Louis I. Kahn's Jewish Architecture")

“A massive and absorbing new account of the building of Beth Sholom.”

(Jewish Review of Books)

“It is a beautifully produced work of art in its own right, and it is certain to be the definitive work on its subject. . . . In meticulously chronicling the building’s design history, Siry has produced a study that is unprecedented in its thoroughness.”

(Jewish Daily Forward)

“Siry offers a wealth of insights into the building’s adventurous structural configuration, the remarkable interplay between architecture and nature experienced in the main worship space, and the close working relationship that developed between the architect and his client.”

“Siry, in exemplary fashion, explains and extols Wright’s crowning achievement in this illuminating volume.”
(The Canadian Jewish News)

“Although Siry writes more on Beth Sholom synagogue in Philadelphia (1953-9) than on any of Frank Lloyd Wright’s other religious commissions, the book is in effect a fine survey of the complete corpus. . . . Not only enables us to inspect at first-hand the dialogue that took place between architect and client but also what it is about the buildings that made Wright such a great architect.”

“Proves that Wright studies can remain vibrant in the proper hands. Serving as the foundation for any future investigations of Wright’s religious work, the book will be valuable not only to Wright fans but also to anyone interested in the larger issues surrounding synagogue architecture in the twentieth century.”
(Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians)

About the Author

Joseph M. Siry is professor of art history and American studies at Wesleyan University. He is the author of three books: The Chicago Auditorium Building:Adler and Sullivan’s Architecture and the City, winner of the 2003 Alice Davis Hitchcock Award from the Society of Architectural Historians for the most outstanding book by a North American scholar published in 2002, and Carson Pirie Scott: Louis Sullivanand the Chicago Department Store, both published by the University of Chicago Press; and Unity Temple: Frank Lloyd Wright and Architecture for Liberal Religion.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a simply brilliant book on one of Wright's least recognized masterpieces. Siry goes all the way back to Wright's days with Adler and Sullivan in his meticulous effort to trace the development of the ideas that led to Beth Shalom. The prose is clear and flowing, and the insights are remarkable. Hard to imagine a better work on this subject.
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Beth Sholom Synagogue: Frank Lloyd Wright and Modern Religious Architecture
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