Tifereth Israel Synagogue is a strategic adaptation and renovation of approximately 20,000 square feet of interior space, as well as exterior courtyards and site work. Due to declining membership and looming deferred maintenance the congregation determined demolition and adaptive “rejuvenation” of the most modern wing would best meet their changing needs.
This strategy of selective demolition, while economical, resulted in a fundamental design challenge. Demolishing the traditional chapel removed the primary public image for the congregation. Creating a new facade, along a major residential boulevard, was essential. A glass panel system was developed to provide iconographic screen for the building and create two distinct outdoor spaces – a “private” space adjacent to the library and a “public” event space adjacent to the sanctuary. This glass screen consists of two sets of ten, 4’ x 10’ sheets of glass laminated together with a printed inner layer. A printed pattern was carefully developed derived from historic geometric plaster patterns from the demolished chapel. The result is a unified, contemporary public image drawn from the history of the congregation. The two screens are differentiated, however. The screen which defines the “private” courtyard is predominately translucent creating a space which is cloistered and inwardly focused to serve the library. One of the glass panels is printed with a significant prayer from Deuteronomy in both English and Hebrew. The screen with defines the “public” event space is predominantly transparent allowing for views out and, as important, views into the sanctuary. One of these panels is printed with traditional Jewish phrases and words of celebration and gathering. This new façade communicates to the Jewish community and the general public the core beliefs of the congregation – both scholarly respect for tradition and faith, as well as welcoming, social fellowship and a sense of community.