Religious Design Rewarded
by Michael J. Crosbie
Among the winners of this year's Religious Art & Architecture Awards are new buildings, sensitive additions, and renovations that impressed the jury with their sense of resourcefulness — making the most out of "found" space in existing buildings or saving an older facility from an ignoble end.
One of the new buildings was built as a reaction to its dark and uninspiring predecessor. A Reform Jewish congregation in Sharon, Massachusetts requested that its new temple be filled with natural light and have a strong exterior form as an identity.
Solomon + Bauer Architects delivered a design that, in the awards jury's words, is "light and inviting" and fits beautifully into its site. Sitting on a raised platform of earth, the new temple announces its presence to the surrounding streets. Clad in brick and topped with large, curved, copper-clad roof monitors, the sanctuary and social hall dominate the exterior massing, rising above the rest of the program spaces.
Inside, light fills the sanctuary space from large expanses of east- and south-facing glass. The jury notes that the synagogue's interior "is elegant, and the play of forms admits natural light through the vaults, especially in the social hall."
A half a continent away, another synagogue recalls the ancient notion of worshipping in a tent. For the design of Agudas Achim Synagogue in Austin, Texas, Lake/Flato Architects took their cues from the ephemeral forms of the first synagogues. These simple, nomadic tents contained a sacred space that was both spiritually uplifting and functionally flexible. >>>
Temple Sinai of Sharon, Massachusetts by Solomon + Bauer Architects.
Photo: Bruce T. Martin
Vienna Presbyterian Church in Vienna, Virginia, by LeMay Erickson Architects.
Photo: Dan Cunningham, Photography
Click on thumbnail images
to view full-size pictures.