Masonic Traditions Inform the Design of Freemasons' Hall in San Francisco
The circle behind the alter represents the rising sun wherein the texture goes from rough to smooth highlighting the stone craftsmanship. Photography by Joe Fletcher.San Francisco’s Freemasons’ Hall has been a venue frequented by different groups of the city’s creative, subversive thinkers for decades. Currently under lease with Live Nation, local design and architecture firm Síol helped restore The Masonic’s auditorium in 2016 and recently completed a basement renovation to create a temple space inspired by the historic traditions of masonry. Working with the original, rich mid-century construction, Síol founder and principal Kevin Hackett delved into the typology of the Romanesque space while following the geometries the masons abide by.“Enlightenment ideals were interested in angles and perfect proportions,” Hackett explains, referencing the emblematic Philosopher’s Stone triangle that’s featured in various spaces, and the notion of the temple being a sacred space inside oneself. He says, “we call it the temple space, but it’s essentially a lodge room,” which gives members room to meet and partake in group dialogues, dinners, and events. To optimize the interior’s acoustics, with its crypt-like vaulted ceilings, Hackett worked with sound engineer Charles Salter to enable the faintest whispers to travel throughout at an audible volume. To further the notion of creating a sensorially immersive experience, the recessed bench and booth seating is designed to enable guests to sink into the walls clad in Gothic-inspired patterns of black leather. “The seats nestle people into the space,” Hackett says. Photography by Joe Fletcher.