5 Montrose Avenue
Client: Mr. Mordechai Halberstam
Brooklyn, NY | Unbuilt
The opportunity to design a new building is a rarity in a city such as New York. The chance to design such a typology as a synagogue loaded with symbolism and deeply embedded with cultural connotations becomes that much more of a challenge. When one is born of the faith that ascribes to such a place, it is a relatively unique situation and is not to be squandered. Such was the attitude our office took in tackling this project in a seemingly leftover triangle sandwiched between desolate auto body shops, the overhead train lines and some other non descript housing. Thus the understood urban context did not immediately provide any guidance.
And so, looking from within, we began with the Star of David and considered it as a plan and a section. Sectionally, the bottom point was the location of the Mikvah, the holy cleansing bath that is meant to provide the direct spiritual connection to God who would be located at the top point. The location of the Ark and the Torah would be at the center of this inscribed space, as it is the heart of Judaism. And the side ‘points’ of the star intimate an interaction among and between the immediate context of the Hassidic community and the place of sanctuary within. This idea became formalized in the crenulated exterior wall panels which, when experienced from within the primary sanctuary space, envelope and wrap the participants with walls and ceiling panels that permit them to focus on the space of Unity and study of The Torah, The Talmud and God.
Of course, such high minded design has the very real program requirements that come along with all pieces of real estate and we felt very proud to have produced such a forward thinking statement about such an important typology. Project delays and other influences have likely curtailed our grand scheme but we remain hopeful that, even if the final product does not remain accurate to its original intention, we still have not lost any of the intellectual capital expended by our office in getting to this point.