A set of steps leads down from street level to an unassuming, reticent door. On the other side, a marble-clad foyer eases the elongated transition from the profane to the sacred space of the lodge. Carefully chosen materials — brass screens, oak flooring, leather, marble seating — create a series of layers that reveal space after subsequent space.

Síol Studios was approached by the Grand Lodge of California to adapt an existing basement within San Francisco’s famed mid-century modern Masonic music venue for a diversity of local Masonic Lodges to gather. Designed to have a smaller footprint than the lodges of yesteryear, the project presented Síol with the challenge of interpreting Masonic traditions and rituals for a modern context. 

The main temple space facilitates the ritualistic and ceremonial aspects of the Masonic tradition. The East-oriented wall, symbolizing the rising sun and the Hermetic seal of light, features a weighted stone circle, fabricated by an English Stonemason and composed of bands of marble that gradate from a split-face finish at the bottom to a polished one at the top, calling to mind the quest for transformation honed by the Masons. The seating, mindfully embedded into the walls, creates a sense of intimacy and depth, while the proportions of the temple space carefully align with the Euclidean geometries that the Masons so highly revere.         

Intersecting barrel vaults, inspired by early Medieval crypts, stretch into the space overhead, accentuating the feeling of being underground all while creating dynamic surfaces for light to wash over. 

The quality of sound was carefully curated — Síol worked closely with an acoustical engineer to create a comfortable and protective sound atmosphere for the space. 

Adjacent to the temple, a library and hearth host the collective learning and oral traditions of the Masons, while a kitchen and dining room allow for convivial gathering before and after ceremonies. Carefully machined finishes — sharp black acrylic, warm polished wood, slick vinyl wallpaper — complement the hand-hewn textures of marble and the filigreed softness of the brass screens that punctuate the spaces. 

Interior Design: Masonic Traditions Inform the Design of Freemasons’ Hall in San Francisco

Year: 2020
Location: San Francisco, CA
Square Footage: 4,645
Typology: Commercial Special Purpose