Westchester Reform Temple and School
- Scarsdale, NY
The 12,000 sf Sanctuary and 14,000 sf 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 Temple needed a new Sanctuary to seat 400 worshipers for weekly services that could also expand to hold 1250 worshippers for the High Holy Days. The Clergy and lay leadership wanted a formal worship space that could transform as necessary to accommodate different worship formats and life cycle events. They required that their sanctuary space face toward the east.
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 stepped forms and slots in the Sanctuary walls and ceiling are shaped to optimize the natural acoustics of the space. Digital technology allows web-cast services and events. The natural daylighting from the skylights and windows is complimented by fluorescent uplighting in the slots. The light slots also contain dimmable downlights as well as theatrical lighting for the Bimah. The East Wall louvers reflect natural light up to the ceiling while cutting direct light into the space, which would cause distracting back lighting behind the Ark.