Project of the Year, Southern California: Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Los Angeles

Intensive preconstruction planning and the use of specialists in historic restoration are credited with the successful revitalization of a faded Hollywood icon.

Since it opened in 1929, the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles was notable for its mixed architectural style, combining Roaring 20s-era glamour with ancient Jewish tradition. Hollywood studio moguls provided funding, materials and skilled studio set builders, such as mural painters, to help with the original construction.

As time went by, the Jewish community near the temple shrank in a demographic shift to the suburbs. Support for the temple dried up and building maintenance was deferred. Eventually, the temple fell into disrepair to the point where chunks of plaster would fall from the ceilings.

In 2011, as young professionals and redevelopment money began flooding back into the neighborhood, a regalvanized community spawned a comprehensive $47.5-million historical restoration, seismic strengthening and modernization project.

Because nearly every surface, material and finish in the National Register of Historic Places building exhibited significant deterioration, a team of specialists was brought in to repair or recreate the temple's grandeur.

"The project team went the extra mile to restore the temple rather than just making cosmetic changes," said one Best Projects judge.

"The project is both beautiful and substantive," said another.

Laying the Groundwork

Work began in October 2011, after months of preconstruction planning. The construction team had prepared a schedule based on breaking the different areas of the building into components, says Stephen Montoya, senior project manager with MATT Construction Corp., the project's general contractor.

"What made this job run smoothly was all the [preconstruction] planning. All we had to do was execute our plan," he says.