Finegold Alexander worked with Congregation Shir Tikva, a 550 member families Reform synagogue to review their existing facilities. Originally designed by others in 2 phases, the existing Social Hall and Sanctuary no longer met the needs of this growing congregation, the administrative spaces lacked oversight of the main entry, and there were no spaces for the congregation to gather. The school wing was considered adequate. Multiple options were explored, from renovation of the existing building, to all new construction. After meetings with various constituent groups and including open congregational meetings, it was determined that new gathering spaces, a new fixed Sanctuary, and a much larger Social Hall were needed to meet the Congregation’s aspirational goals.
The proposed Sanctuary and Social Hall are connected to the existing school wing by a new Community Court. The Community Court serves as a gathering space, becoming a heart for the facility. The design proposed the use of torrefied wood exterior cladding, reflecting the existing wooded site, and the Congregation’s desire for an environmentally sustainable facility. Within the Community Court, a wooden structure inspired by the Sukkah grounds the space. The new Sanctuary can seat 900, but is designed with multiple areas; a main seating area, multiple loge areas, and a balcony. With its large wall of glass facing to a sacred garden it connects to the natural world, a connection desired by the congregation. This design ensures that the space remains intimate for typical Friday services of 100, while accommodating a flexible capacity for all other observations.