Archive for the ‘New Buildings’ Category

Congregation Adath B’nai Israel

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Temple Adath B’nai Israel, the only Synagogue in Evansville, IN, is a new facility for a congregation of 200 families. The site is adjacent to an elevated Interstate Highway, with a nearby cloverleaf providing prominent views from above and as one progresses through the gradual sweep of the exit ramp. The highly visible roof thus becomes a focal point of the design. The heavily wooded backdrop for the site is an abandoned railroad right of way which screens the property from the neighboring church and provides a protected sylvan setting for use of the outdoor terrace, and seasonally varied views from the primary worship, educational and fellowship spaces.

The program for this congregation is unique in that large overflow Holiday crowds are not a factor. This use pattern allows the sanctuary and social hall to function separately at all time and affords an opportunity to express these primary spaces as discrete elements within the overall composition. The resulting design is a simple but powerful collection of pure forms grounded in a tilting plane. The cylinder of the sanctuary is capped by an abstracted crown symbolizing the majesty of G-d [and also hides the mechanical equipment], the cube of the library-chapel, and the rectangular prism of the social hall, all intersect with a simple wedge-shaped bar of the base building.

The dominant design feature of the Sanctuary is a stepped pattern of twelve pairs of windows, which progress around the drum from a low point at the entry doors, to a high point behind the Bimah. Each pair of windows is aligned under a matching pair of half-round clerestory windows above. Only at the Bimah do these vertically aligned windows actually unite to form a pair of tablets etched with the Ten Commandments, revealing the unambiguously Jewish character of the space.

The building is an essay in balancing the particular with the universal. The use of local brick, Indiana limestone, and a standing seam roof tie the building to its specific locale in time and space, while the pure geometric forms give the structure a timeless quality. The sanctuary, in particular, expresses the purity of the axis mundi tempered by an asymmetrical exposed king post structural system which locates the center of the room over the Bimah rather than the geometric center of the circle, and supports an heirloom Ner Tamid [eternal light] which has traveled with the congregation, along with its stained glass windows, as it has moved from one home to another, growing and changing over the years yet still connecting with its history, a significant Jewish theme.

Hevreh Of Southern Berkshire

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

“Hevreh” means community and the design of a new building is inevitably an expression of that community. The Jewish population in Great Barrington has traditionally been a summer phenomenon, multiplying with the seasonal attractions and Hevreh served its fluctuating congregation by borrowing facilities from others. After 20 years of “wandering” the congregation felt that, the time had come for a permanent home. The challenge was to build a temple that draws worshippers closer together, that invites spiritual reflection and encourages the community aspirations of the congregation, and provides needed space for its growing educational program as well as for community events.

Two-thirds of an 11 acre site is protected wetlands and the building and parking were forced close to the road. With breath-taking views to the back of the property the design oriented all public and meeting spaces toward the back and configured the utilitarian spaces to be visually inviting but functionally buffering.

Picture a 19th century shul in a close-knit eastern European village. The carpentry tradition and timber resources of the Berkshire are similar, but the cold winters have inspired a rambling, connected architecture that strings barns and woodsheds, to porches, to the house. These two inspirations have come together at Hevreh. Cedar is the dominant material both inside and out and the central space that serve as both sanctuary and social space needed to be inspirational as well as flexible and utilitarian.

The sanctuary is a deliberate departure from the enclosed and sheltered synagogues of Eastern Europe. It is welcoming, airy and filled with the light. The room seats 125 for weekly services with remarkable intimacy and can expand to seat 275 for special occasions. Large windows along two walls of the sanctuary can be removed each Fall for the High Holy Days services and nearly 600 additional seats set up on the terrace beneath a heated or cooled custom tent-like extension. At the eastern corner of this multi-purpose space the Torahs are sheltered in a semi-circulary wood and glass Ark that was designed by internationally known glass-artist, Tom Patti, whose studio is nearby.

Congregation Micah

Monday, January 18th, 2010

The challenge was to build a temple that draws worshippers closer together, that invites spiritual reflection and encourages the communitarian aspiration of the congregants. The congregation needed more space and wished to make a distinctive statement of contemporary Judaism in a community with more than 300 churches but only 3 synagogues.

The building is set well back on its 38 acre site closer to the hills beyond and to establish the natural setting, preserve 24 acres of protected wetlands and to orchestrate the approach sequence through the trees and flowering meadow. Drawing inspiration from the walls of Jerusalem, yellow-gold brick, are laid in patterns that resemble the large cut stone and varied patterns of the ancient Temple’s Western Wall; worshippers are drawn through the entry and into a traditionally inspired Jewish community.

Picture a 19th century shtetl, a close-knit eastern European village. The streets are narrow, the sounds of life everywhere; a small chapel tight between the shops; the voices of children raised in prayer serenade. The rabbi’s study is across the street, a quiet retreat, lined with books and Judaic art. At the corner, across from the synagogue, is a library filled with children’s storybooks, Jewish recipes from distant lands, Bibles and biographies. To the right a smaller street extends to the edge of town with little schools along the way, each an active cluster of classrooms where children learn to draw and sing and read.

The sanctuary is a deliberate departure from the enclosed and sheltered synagogues of the shtetl. It is welcoming, airy and filled with light of the open countryside. The room seats 300 in just 7 rows, with remarkable intimacy. Panels along the sanctuary’s curved rear wall open to accommodate 1200 for the High Holy Days. At the center the Torahs are sheltered in a cylindrical Ark that is the heart of the building, forming the base for the 7 steel trusses that spring to support the roof like the branches of a menorah or the tree of life. The curved copper doors of the Ark, are inscribed with Exodus 20, which includes the Ten Commandments.

Temple Beth Or

Friday, January 15th, 2010

This was my first Synagogue design that was completed in 1978. It is included to demonstrate the timelessness of the design and the recurring themes that have influenced all subsequent synagogue designs.

In this project for a new Reform Temple, we incorporate recurring themes: tradition, synthesis, indigenous materials, integration, symbolism and culture. As they appear, each strengthens the other, interlocking to create the whole. Seen in context of the themes, architecture now becomes a cultural experience. The architecture of the synagogue takes on traits of Judaism: re-examining and re-interpreting history; applying tradition to the present; questioning. Finally the architecture, like the religion, becomes a commentary for a people, a time, a place.

This Temple is set on a heavily wooded five-acre suburban site which slopes gently away from the road. The synagogue is approached from the east, providing an initial view of the Bimah wall and Ark, the symbolic heart of the building. The public character of the approach dramatically changes at the rear, to a tranquil private space for outdoor activity. The sanctuary seats 220 and can expand into the two level school to accommodate 600 for the High Holy Days.

Sloping roofs are sandwich construction of scribed wood timbers, with a pine veneer on the interior, cedar shingles on the outside and infill of insulation. Brick was selected for its insulating properties, because its indigenous to North Carolina and because of its scale. Wood was selected because of its warmth, because its indigenous to the site and because it recalls the heritage of the wooden synagogues of Eastern Europe. Much like these destroyed synagogues, the Ark is a highly crafted element, a Judaic artifacts that was originally build for Temple Beth El in Detroit, MI in 1867.

Temple Beth El

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Temple Beth El occupies a site adjacent to the entry drive in Sholom Park, a Jewish campus that was developed with a community center as the central facility. The center provides recreational and social community facilities as well as shared educational and meeting spaces for two independent synagogues which flank its approach. The program called for a 350-seat sanctuary, expandable to 1200 for the High Holy Days. This design attempts to integrate the expansion space so that all congregants feel equally a part of the worship community, regardless of where they are seated. Also included in the program was a small chapel, social hall, meeting rooms, and administrative offices.

Situated in the traditional manner, oriented toward the east on top of a hill, the synagogue is reached via a circular drive and promenade, which arrive at the first quadrant [vehicular drop-off] of a four-quadrant plan. The other quadrants, a ceremonial court which serves as a focus for the internal circulation and various ancillary functions, the sanctuary and the social hall, are connected by a circulation spine which terminates at an overlook and pedestrian connection to the community center.

The focus of the new sanctuary – an historic Ark dating from the early 1920’s – inspired the cast stone and stucco vocabulary of the exterior and helped shape the interior space, giving the building a quiet classical character. Other notable features include the sanctuary’s thrust sky lit Bimah and unique ceiling vault. This vault, which extends beyond the boundaries of the room, further unifies the High Holiday worship experience, and floods the space with light from the clerestories at the spring point of the vault on either side. The careful attention given to both natural and artificial lighting, foster dramatic spatial changes reflecting nature’s daily cycle, thereby reinforcing the synagogue’s spiritual character and making it warm and inviting at all times.

St. Irene Church

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

St. Irene Church is sited to complement the campus-like atmosphere of the existing facilities and grounds. The brick-clad structure conveys a welcoming character appropriate for a place of worship. The building program included a Eucharistic Hall, Daily Liturgy Chapel, Reconciliation Chapel, Gathering Space, Sacristy, and Music Room. The fan-shaped Eucharistic Hall features seating that wraps around the altar platform thus fostering a sense of community and closeness for the congregation. Two exposed steel trusses support a central light monitor which introduces abundant daylight into the main worship space. The gathering space features stained glass windows relocated from the previous church building and a two-level marble baptistry. A “Season’s of the Church” tapestry forms an appropriate backdrop for the main altar. The ecclesiastical furniture was designed to complement the architectural design.

Soka Gakkai International, Chicago Culture Center

Friday, January 1st, 2010

The Chicago Culture Center is a Buddhist Temple and midwest headquarters for Soka Gakkai International, the largest religious organization in Japan. The $3.6 million Culture Center includes 600, 150, and 50-seat auditoriums, exhibition gallery, executive offices, training rooms, and a bookstore. Siting of the center continues the Chicago tradition of major buildings terminating streets. The main lobby is centered on the axis of 14th Place at Wabash Avenue. Building forms are drawn from Chicago architectural traditions. Major materials and building systems were researched and value engineered to provide a durable and cost-effective solution, while meeting the client’s stringent functional criteria. The compact dense massing of the building was determined to provide a cost-effective approach early in the design process. The design was broken down into primary shapes that reflected the internal functional arrangement and yielded an appealing scale to an otherwise large building.

“Our religious organization selected the firm of Harding Partners as architects for our new Chicago Culture Center based on their experience in similar projects and interest in creating attractive and usable worship and assembly spaces. Paul Harding remained committed and involved through all phases of the project, exercising great care so that we would be fully satisfied with the building. The finished building has become the keystone of the redeveloped Wabash corridor, uniting Dearborn Park and Central Station. We are very happy with the building and with the role of Harding Partners in its realization.”
— Guy C. McClosky, Vice President Soka Gakkai International – USA

New Hope Missionary Baptist Church

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Design intentions for New Hope Missionary Baptist Church are rooted in African American culture and history. The design is derived from vernacular “Spirit Houses” in South Carolina and Georgia, where slaves gathered for liturgical celebration and expression. These humble churches were simple, white-washed, wood-framed structures with unadorned interiors. New Hope Missionary Baptist Church seeks to recognize African American heritage by building upon the typology of the “Spirit House.” Natural light, symbolic of God’s enlightenment, permeates the worship space and creates an ever-changing tapestry for worship and cultural celebration. Major program components of the 9,400 sf church include a 300-seat sanctuary, a gathering space/multi-purpose hall, a library, classrooms, and offices. The brick-clad, wood-framed structure was value-engineered to a cost of $138 per sf to meet the client’s limited budget. Simple and straightforward construction technology was utilized for economy and to reflect the origins of African American religious architecture in this country.