A Progressive Addition Distinguishes a Toronto Synagogue Built in the – Metropolis Magazine

Posted By on May 17, 2020

At the historic Holy Blossom Temple, Diamond Schmitt Architects has recently added an airy atrium that links the original sanctuary structure with a more modern education wing from the 1960s. Courtesy Tom Arban Photography

Torontos iconic Holy Blossom Temple has always had a progressive agenda. Besides occupying one of the citys original purpose-built synagogues, designed in 1938, it is the first Canadian congregation to be led by a female rabbi. Naturally, when the time came to add a space for gatherings and events around 2003, its members sought out a firm steeped in contemporary practices. There was an added challenge, though: An adjacent educational wing and social hall, built in the 1960s, was linked to the rear of the temple by a warren of administrative offices. The ensemble had further robbed the complex of a defined foyer and an adequate front door.

Over the new gathering space is a crisscross of walkways and staircases that link to auxiliary rooms above, like a chapel clad in light woods. Courtesy Tom Arban Photography

The firm hired for the job, local studio Diamond Schmitt Architects, took an almost surgical approach by removing the interstitial spacea labyrinth of rooms and hallways that principal and project lead Martin Davidson describes as a tortured pretzel. In its place is an oblong atrium three stories high and featuring a fritted glass roof that floods an unobstructed gallery with natural light. At one end, a circular stairway wrapped in cut steel leads to the upper levels, while cantilevered walkways connect auxiliary spaces like a family chapel with sycamore walls and oak floors.

Courtesy Tom Arban Photography

Navigation is now so transparent that staff at the front desk can simply point visitors in the right direction. Before services, congregants enter the darkened sanctuary via the new atrium; after, they pour back into the ample space for lingering and chatting.

Rather than erase entirely what was removed, Davidson and his team left a trail of archaeological reveals that attest to the campuss past lives. For example, three metal rectangles outline the rabbis previous office windows. And just inside the new foyer is an irregular pattern on the floor that demarcates the former entrance, replaced by a handsome pair of heavy wooden doors that lead to the heart of the complex.

You may also enjoy Artist David Hartt Takes Over a Frank Lloyd Wright-Designed Synagogue

The rest is here:

A Progressive Addition Distinguishes a Toronto Synagogue Built in the - Metropolis Magazine

Related Post

Comments

Comments are closed.