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Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation Synagogue, Evanston, United States

Thursday 25 Jun 2009

A green way to pray

copyright: Ross Barney Architects 
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24/10/10 Eric, Colorado Springs
Would you prefer people to study scripture in a mud hut? This is the 21st century after all and architecture should be about new ideas and how those ideas support CURRENT life.
01/09/10 S. Auerbach, Chevy Chase, MD
Two things:

1) It's tiresome to see project after project applaudedfor its "creativity" which roughly and properly translates into "uniqueness" and really has nothing to do with a creative solution to age-old HUMAN FUNCTIONS, NEEDS AND TRADITIONS.

2) As a Jewish Architect who has design a number of Synagogues and studied their trditional needs and funtions, I must tell you that it is absolutely FORBIDDEN to have any view of the out-of-doors, because it is ruled that it will distract from PRAYER! That is one of the reasons the reading table (BEMA) should be placed in the center of the Synagogue's SANCTUARY (prayer space) – that causes all the attendees to turn their backs on the exterior walls and FOCUS ON THOSE WHO ARE READING SCRIPTURES, ETC. i.e where the Torah is Read! AND HERE THEY VIOLATE ALL OF THAT BY PUTTING A GLASS WALL BEHIND A READING TABLE WHICH IS NOT IN THE CENTER OF THE SANCTUARY.

I BELIEVE THIS SHOULD APPLY TO ALL SYNAGOGUES – NOT ONLY TO CONSERVATIVE AND ORTHODOX !! Read Exodus: the Tabernacle is described there and almost reads like a specification; with dimensions and all.

3) Often there is an oversupply of interior space in modern Wow - Buildings, and its surprising to me how often the lead interior photo is of the stairway. Obviosly the only part of a building which cn be "uniquely sculpted"!

4) speaking interior space, so much is expended in other than the useful rooms, I wonder when LEED requirements will quantify the exsess space in their calculations of heating and cooling demands ???

AW, come on, you can meet these requirements and configure a Unique Building !!
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Award Entry

New synagogue is first to achieve LEED platinum 

The new 31,600 sq. ft. Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (JRC) synagogue replaces their smaller synagogue, situated in a mature suburban neighbourhood, across from a city park and adjacent to a commuter train. The design balances the limitations of its small site with an ambitious program promoting JRC’s worship, educational, and community goals. It is the first house of worship to achieve a LEED platinum certification.

Evanston’s zoning ordinance limited the building area to less than the original 42,000 sq. ft. program. Space demand was evaluated hour by hour to find the most flexible balance. JRC’s offices, early childhood program, and chapel occupy the first floor; the religious school and library are on the second floor; and the sanctuary, social hall and kitchen are on the third floor, a strategy that allowed cost effective construction of high volume space for the sanctuary.

JRC’s commitment to Tikkun Olam – Hebrew for “repairing the world” – is manifest in the design while demonstrating the benefits of sustainable design. The solution, a precious wooden box, is a visual testament to these values. The wood cladding is recycled cypress harvested from demolished barns.

A Jerusalem stone wall anchors the box creating a baseline for all other activities. The processional stair outside the wall provides a meaningful and eventful transition between spaces. JRC’s highly involved, multigenerational congregation is reflected in the informal, non hierarchical community and worship spaces, especially the sanctuary.

Achieving Platinum LEED required careful consideration of sustainable strategies, and a comprehensive, holistic approach to the building design. To make a sustainable transition from old to new, the design incorporates the existing foundations and used demolition spoils for engineered fill. Trees that could not be preserved were harvested for use within the building. Construction waste was placed in gabions and used to create site features.

40% of materials are regionally manufactured the deliberate exception is the Jerusalem Stone. Included for its spiritual connection to Judaism and Israel, it represents less that 1.5% of the total construction costs. The building was constructed for a modest budget- $230/sf.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
Were you involved in this scheme?
Ross Barney Architects

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