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North Adams

While working as a Project Architect for the Office of Michael Rosenfeld Inc., I worked with a small congregation in North Adams, MA to design a 5500 sqft synagogue at the foothills of the mountains. With tight budget constraints, and a beautiful site, the Congregation wanted to create a different kind of space that would allow their members to connect with their natural surroundings while attending services. Using the Arc as the focal point, it became both the spiritual, and structural center for the building. A tall column of finished concrete, the Arc houses the Torah’s, and provided a backdrop for the Rabbi. The members of the congregation, as well as the structure above them, fan out in a semi circle around the Arc with open views to the mountains. A radial pattern of beams hangs from the tall Arc, and creates the lofty space minimizing the feeling of enclosure, and creates a protected outdoor experience. Large windows can be opened in the warm weather to let in the cool breezes and the sounds of the willow trees moving in the wind. Spread in a ring about the center, are the support spaces; offices, classrooms, kitchen and entry. The main center space can be divided by a movable partition that creates a smaller sanctuary, library, and social hall area. These perimeter spaces help to understate and shield the larger space from the surrounding residential neighborhood, and help the structure settle nicely into the site. The simple forms create a sense of calm while complimenting the dramatic views the site has to offer.