WESTCHESTER REFORM TEMPLE
Westchester Reform Temple
To accommodate the growth of its congregation, Westchester Reform Temple set out to create a new Center for Jewish Life. The congregation bought the Cornell House next door to their synagogue with the intention of demolishing it, but soon learned that the house was landmarked.
The design of the Center for Jewish Life incorporates the historic house and defines a place in the landscape. The program for the Center required spaces for worship, educational and social activities, and dining. The plan was influenced by synagogues in Cordova and Chappaqua. The new sanctuary in the Center respects Jewish tradition by placing the Ark on the east, arranging the seating in communal fashion, and providing clerestory light.
The design solution creates a small campus. The three edges of the outdoor space are informally defined by the synagogue, the new Center, and a stone wall with plantings that shield the site from a busy street. A bluestone path connects the synagogue to the Center, and large deciduous trees shelter the open green space. The new building and landscape elements create a sacred outdoor space, which serves as a contemplative garden and as a protected place for outdoor observances and festivities.