"This is a remarkable building, both monumental and intimate. It is very difficult to achieve these characteristics simultaneously. It is grand but not overbearing. Using a very small palette of materials, there is enormous variety inside. There is a hint of the 'wailing wall' here." – Jury comments, CT AIA Award 2008
"The building is rich in symbolism, while the detailing and finishes are wonderful. The aesthetic reverberates throughout the building. The use of natural lighting is wonderful. The porticos are a welcoming gesture, suggestive of a rabbi's hands extended in blessing. This incredibly powerful symbol is echoed in the canopy over the bimah. Well crafted and elegant." – Jury comments, Faith & Form Honor Award 2007
"Centerbrook no doubt managed success, infusing traditional symbolism with a measure of modernity." – Hinge, Design in Focus, Vol. 146
This building is a sanctuary, school, and community center that serves as a new East Campus for the expanding congregation of the renowned Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights, designed by Eric Mendelsohn in 1950. Like its older "sibling," it was designed to offer welcome, shelter, and blessing to its congregation.
The building is a simple steel frame box clad in a stick and panel mosaic of copper cladding. Three large organic shapes burst from the box - a Jerusalem stone clad sanctuary and two great copper-covered canopies leading to a two-story lobby. These two entrances of equal importance - one for the school, the other for the sanctuary, library, and offices - bend towards each other in a gesture of welcome and blessing.
The sanctuary is surrounded inside and out by gently curving, monumental stone walls. The stone is coursed in large horizontal bands reminiscent of primordial construction of early Jerusalem temples. Chapel daylight comes indirectly from four edges, giving it a soft glow for quietude and solace.
While this building is straightforward for the sake of economy, its age-old materials and extraordinary light make it a sacred place.
Photography © Scott Frances