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Movie Moguls and a National Treasure

From humble beginnings in 1862 when “the City of Angels” was better known for producing cattle than producing films, the 32 charter members of Congregation B’nai B’rith grew to become one of the largest groups of Jewish worshippers in the Los Angeles area.  Fast forward to 1929, when despite the economic collapse that rocked the world, Southern California’s movie industry—and the entertainment escape it provided the masses—was flourishing.

That same year, under visionary leadership of Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin, who ministered to some of the tinsel town’s legendary studio moguls such as MGM’s Louis B. Mayer and Warner Bros. Studios’ chief Jack Warner, a new temple was dedicated on Wilshire Boulevard.  These and other Hollywood tycoons funded some of the more unique features of the Temple—from the classic stained-glass windows and cast-bronze spicebox chandeliers, to the 100-foot-high Oculus dome and spectacular Biblically-inspired murals.

In 1984 this “architectural masterpiece” was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places.  Over the past eight decades the once exquisite ornamentation of the Byzantine-style structure has lost its luster.  Fine features of the 1,850-seat sanctuary such as intricate mosaics, beautiful Italian marble, hand-carved woods and custom fixtures that have suffered over time received a facelift thanks to a $175-million multi-phased renovation and redevelopment effort, in which Berg is played a supporting role.

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Cast of Characters Credits Communication for Success

The spotlight for the critical $30-million first phase of the restoration relied on general contractor Matt Construction, who worked closely with project architect Levin and Associates to ensure that the Wilshire Boulevard Temple would be restored to its initial splendor, as well as meet modern-day requirements of lighting, sound and security.  In order to serve the electrical needs of the Temple’s current four-acre campus and its development plans, Bergelectric delivered a new central plan and electrical service.  “Providing new service required that all of the mechanical, electrical and low-voltage utilities be combined in a 36” casing in a single trench bored under an adjacent building, entering into the basement of the 1928 historic Temple,” explained Berg General Foreman.

Berg crews were faced a dual challenge of not only maintaining service to the campus’ existing schools and administration buildings that remained operational during the transition, but also balancing the unobtrusive installation of modern technology in a historic setting.  “This phase of the project was meticulously coordinated among Matt Construction, the Owner, architect, end-users, trades and conservators in an effort to limit potential disruptions, preserve fixtures and maintain the sanctuary’s original grandeur,” noted Bergelectric Project Manager.

Size
92,000 Square Feet

Electrical Construction Cost
$5.4 Million

Duration
October 2010 – April 2014

Delivery Method
Design-Bid-Build

Other Team Members
Matt Construction
Levin and Associates
IBE Consulting Engineers

Berg Regional Office
Los Angeles

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