Design – 36,000-sq.-ft., 1-story plus basement synagogue with 2 sanctuaries, classrooms, a social hall and 17 parking spaces
Design a sophisticated, reverent space that not only adhered to rigorous religious guidelines but also provided an aesthetically pleasant setting, incorporating elements from culture, faith and nature.
The building would house two sects of the Jewish faith – Sephardic and Ashkenazic. Both elements needed to be considered equally. We worked extensively with both congregations to ensure that the building was deferential to each respective congregation’s rituals and practices, ensuring they were also respectful to each other and considered the environment of the site. The project also needed to incorporate shared common/social areas, administrative offices and classroom facilities.
“KCT is proud to be the first shul (synagogue) in the area to serve as home to both Ashkenazic and Sephardic minyanim, each given equal prominence within the structural and spiritual design.”
The resulting project is simple and elegant – respectful and focused on faith and function. Filled with symbolic elements, the design allows congregants to interact with and experience the building on an individual level. The representations are not always literal or obvious, but more emblematic in nature – a mental design exercise to consider the meaning behind each feature.
Two flat pieces at the front entrance of the building represent the tablets containing the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses. Both the numbers 3 (Moses was the third child) and 12 (12 tribes of Israel) have significance in the Jewish faith and many elements are represented with this in mind. Curved roofs portrayed the parting of the seas; a central, cylindrical-shaped skylight symbolized the holy Torah; and the use of pure white Jerusalem stone was reminiscent of the ancient Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
Both elevations of the building are significant and prominent. The front of the building is more of a symbolic entrance, accessed mostly on foot, which is the mode patrons use when they come to worship on the Sabbath. The rear entrance, also welcoming and attractive, is used mostly for administrative and school uses and is adjacent to the parking lot.
Large windows were incorporated into the design to make the most of the natural light and surroundings, as the building is situated next to a park. Many of the interior design features and elements, such as light fixtures and stone, were imported from Israel or made by Israeli artists.
Photos by Patsy McEnroe Photography
Interior by Amrami Design Group