Temple Emanuel is remarkable as a recently refurbished icon of Modernism in Beverly Hills, as well as the first religious building designed by prolific Modern architect Sidney Eisenshtat. Completed in 1953, the building reflects Eisenshtat’s belief that synagogues should be horizontal rather than vertical because God dwells among the people with no intermediary. It is a low yet massive building clad mostly in brick, with a main façade that features brick arches tapering to fine points before they connect with the ground, making the building seem much lighter.
The main entrance features a circular concrete canopy, open in the middle and supported by simple posts. This circular motif continues into the main sanctuary, which is likewise curved for a feeling of inclusion and unity. Like other synagogues and academic buildings Eisenshtat would go on to create, Temple Emanuel exhibits a masterly shaping of simple brick and concrete into expressive, evocative forms. His design evokes a tent in the desert, like those used by the ancient Hebrews. Original art pieces, including metal sculptures, stained glass windows, and a mosaic mural, were partially covered up by interior modifications over the years but were exposed and preserved as part of a 2011 renovation by Rios Clementi Hale Studios.