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American Hebrew Academy / Greensboro, North Carolina

A major endowment has been made to create a boarding school for 800 students in rural North Carolina with a strong commitment to academic excellence and religious tradition. One hundred acres of rolling woodlands have been purchased and the program has been developed to match the academic and religious aspirations to the natural character of the site.

Historically the link between religion and study has been strong. Campus plans often focus around a chapel or worship center and that concept is the primary generator of this Master Plan Concept. At the American Hebrew Academy the Synagogue or Bet Midrash will be the essence of the campus. Located at the rural center of the campus at the landing of the central ravine on the lakeside inlet, the Bet Midrash, like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem forms the, spiritual and spatial heart of the Academy. From the prayer and study centre, a gently curving wall of Jerusalem stone climbs the northern ridge to the secured entrance, defining terraces for the more specialized academic buildings and creating a pedestrian street [with all vehicular traffic and utilities hidden below] reminiscent of old Jerusalem.

To the south of the Bet Midrash, climbing the more gentle ridges along the lakeside, the student homes catch the prevailing southeastern breezes as they cluster along narrow streets.

The Bet Midrash defines an intimately scaled plaza at the heart of the campus. Central in plan as well as function, the plaza will be active throughout the day from morning prayer, library study, and services to meal-time dining and continuing circulation to and from classes and residences. The dining hall is located at the north side of the plaza, the first resident homes along the south side and the headmaster and visiting scholars will frame the western edge as it opens onto the lake.

Project Location

Location Map

    Key Information

  • Paid Design Competition
  • 100 acre rural sit on a small lake
  • 1st Hebrew Boarding School in United States
  • Israeli and Jewish themes and influences
  • Total hidden vehicular circulation and utilities