07 Aug 2011 • Façade
The design of a synagogue in New York’s SoHo district invites patrons to integrate worship with a modern lifestyle.
Seeking to reinvent the synagogue into a comfortable and enjoyable setting, designer Dror Benshetrit of studio Dror played with dual meanings throughout the space. Located in a former fashion boutique, the house of prayer has kept many elements intact, including brick walls and the exterior shop facade.
From the street, guests face a striped window, resembling the lines of a Jewish tallit shawl and the image of the bar code. Upon entering, visitors travel through a long reception area with a wall installation made of blue bricks that displays names of donors. Lines on the ceiling lead into the prayer room.
Here, guests enter at the top of a steel and glass staircase that opens to the lower sanctuary. Pipes are left exposed to accentuate the characteristic brick walls, while art pieces are comprised of a series of panels that can be removed and folded onto chairs or coffee tables if needed. Prayer benches are comfortable low-seating beige couches, which contrast the industrial feel of the space.
A fresco representing a menorah lines one wall; it was made of seven aligned brick squares that Benshetrit found within the wall foundation when renovating.
‘The intention was to embrace and integrate the history and the nature of the architecture shell that was going to host the religious space,’ Benshetrit says.