Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation Synagogue

June 2010
Evanston, Illinois
Ross Barney Architects

Completion Date: 2008

Owner: Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation

Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation Synagogue
Photo © Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing Photographers

Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation Synagogue, Evanston, Illinois

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Program: A 31,600-square-foot new synagogue to replace the congregation's old building. The synagogue includes offices, an early childhood program, and a chapel on the first floor; a school and library on the second floor; and a sanctuary, social hall, and kitchen on the third floor.

Design Concept and Solution: Following the principle of Tikkun Olam (Hebrew for "repairing the world"), the Ross Barney team aimed for a simple, sustainable design that would satisfy LEED Platinum guidelines on a modest budget. They opted for a simple box clad in reclaimed cypress, recalling the early wood synagogues of Eastern Europe. Keeping occupied spaces at the perimeter—organized around the electrical and plumbing systems in the building's center—maximizes daylight and ventilation, while the foyer of the sanctuary receives lots of sunlight from the south-facing windows and from solar-tube skylights. An automated system detects when natural ventilation is enough and shuts off heating and cooling. The concrete floor, polished to look like terrazzo, contains reclaimed fly ash from steel mills, and maple trees disturbed by the construction were repurposed as cladding for the synagogue's entrance door.

Total construction cost: $7.3 million

Ross Barney Architects
10 W Hubbard Street
Chicago, Illinois 60654
P. 312 832 0600
F. 312 832 0601

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