Skirball Cultural Center

The Skirball Cultural Center for American Jewish Life was as an outgrowth of the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. It is located off the freeway at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains, adjacent to the Getty Center. The complex is organized in three wings around two large outdoor courtyards, the four-storey Skirball Centre includes the Skirball Museum of Jewish History (an exhibit recording 4,000 years of Jewish experience, including 400 years in America), a 350-seat auditorium, a conference room, an educational complex with classrooms and a Discovery Center for children that features a biblical archeological dig.

The entrance into the complex is located at its centre and is reached by a broad staircase covered with concrete beams that hint at the concrete arcades inside the complex itself. The entrance space is lit by natural light that penetrates the semi elliptical glass ceiling and through the glass wall that separates it from an inner courtyard. This space divides the two central wings; the education and administrative wing to the north and the exhibition spaces to the south.

Throughout the entire complex there is a progression of transitions between interiors and exteriors, alternating between buildings and courtyards, and the general design is that of a tartan grid. The links between the wings passes through two levels of massive arcades, some roofed and some open. The building’s exposed concrete frame support stainless steel infill panels that contrast with, and reflect the alternating pink granite and warm coloured concrete bands of the base.