A Jewel Within a Ring Setting
The project challenge was to create an iconic form and unique identity for the new synagogue on a very small, residential-sized parcel. Our goal was to create a contemporary expression of architecture that also relates to traditional building materials and construction techniques of early synagogue structures. The driving force behind the design was the creation of a centralized sanctuary with an octagonal, jewel like form that was celebrated by pulling open the roof corners to reveal faceted window dormers capturing dramatic morning and evening sunlight.
Oriented in the traditional manner of synagogues, the building faces east with minimal parking provisions as the majority of the members live within walking distance. The main entry is celebrated with a grand stair and a cantilevered concrete canopy that leads into the lobby with access to the sanctuary, parlor, memorial room, basement, and mezzanine. The program requires a high level of flexibility for the sanctuary to accommodate the fluctuations in attendance from normal services to high-holy days. Sliding glass walls were introduced to the south and west to expand into the adjacent rooms on the ground level and the mezzanine to accommodate overflow seating.
The building is made with a simple material palette including Jerusalem stone, concrete, heavy timber, and zinc. The stone was carefully composed with a balance of horizontal and vertical lines that transition from a rough to smooth surface with large-scale fluted units as a grounding base, transitioning to a hand chiseled ashlar body, which is then accented with a polished cornice banding. The interior of the sanctuary infuses the traditional language of timber-framed synagogues from Eastern Europe via contemporary glue-lam roof framing that reinforces the dramatic vertical orientation of the space.