The new 12,000sf Sanctuary and 14,000sf Religious School and Study Center for Westchester Reform Temple establish a West to East axis of increasing privacy and spirituality: from campus and world to community and social hall, to sanctuary and worship, to a spiritual garden and contemplation. The concept for the sanctuary is based on Tikkun Olam – "repairing the world." Seven cedar and plaster bands of varying dimensions are broken by daylight: representing our world's finished and unfinished efforts. Each band is inscribed with a quotation in Hebrew and English about the use of 7 in Judaism. The seventh band frames the ark and connection to the outside world. When the sanctuary and social hall combine into one large space, there are twelve bands, the twelve Tribes of Israel. The East Wall holds the Bima within, made of glass louvers with mirrored undersides. The wall merges three views: a subtle view directly to the Garden revealing the world of nature, an idealized reflection of the garden as the multi-colored diverse world of nature and thought, and a quiet reflection of the congregation and the lights of the sanctuary. Collectively these views hold the floating Ark: within the world, in this place, by these people. The ark Cabinet, made of olive ash, recalls the original Ark carried in the Sinai desert. The olive panels are aligned in sephardic scale, acknowledging the role of music in the services. A bronze collar, lit by a solar-powered Ner Tamid, lines the Ark opening in a continuous and mysterious band that, like Torah, suggests the need for study and interpretation. The memorial garden, lined with bronze yarzheit screens, is centered in the new lobby, connecting existing and new buildings, the past and present, external and internal light.
Chicago Atheneum, American Architecture Award, Chicago Athenaeum Green Good Design for Architecture, AIA New York City Project Merit Award
photography © Paul Warchol