Synagogue Design Experience
For three decades Finegold Alexander has collaborated with Jewish congregations across the nation to create their spiritual homes. This extensive experience has given us a deep perspective and appreciation of the aspirational, religious and technical requirements of these important projects. We understand that a synagogue is much more than a physical space for worship – it can be the very heart of a Jewish community.
Finegold Alexander has developed an iterative design process for synagogues that begins with deep listening. We seek to understand your congregation’s values; the aspects that make your community distinct, and your aspirations for the present and future generations. Out of this shared understanding we arrive at designs that support and extend the missions of our client congregations “L-dor V-dor” from generation to generation.
“You have created a building that I live in and that I love every day of my life. You have created a space of grace and peace and light and joy.”
Rabbi Wes Gardenschwartz | Temple Emmanuel
SYNAGOGUE DESIGN APPROACH
Finegold Alexander’s design process begins in conversation with you. We seek to thoroughly understand your mission to create a welcoming home, and we’ll work together in an inclusive and collaborative approach to programming and concept design. We will strive to achieve a successful blend of your aspirational and technical goals. Steps in our design approach include:
We begin with visioning sessions that include all stakeholders and ask questions such as “How do you as a Jewish community want to live in this space? What message do you want to send to the world with your physical space?” The answers to these and technical and programmatic questions establish the guiding principles for our collaboration.
Translating the Results of Listening Process
The guiding principles approved by each congregation inform preliminary design concepts. While our deep experience in synagogue design guides us, every synagogue is unique. This is because each congregation is unique, and we believe every design should reflect that congregation’s mission and values.
Create a Unique Synagogue Program
We dig deep to understand your unique programmatic and operational requirements, looking for synergies in usage and space types. The flexible use of spaces and a connection between the indoors and the natural world are hallmarks of our synagogue design approach.
Over our three decades of designing synagogues, we have worked with many congregations to define the synagogues of the 21st century. Synagogues in the 20th century were often designed to blend with their surroundings and took an approach to expansion for high holidays that created spaces too big for shabbat intimacy, while also creating a vast and impersonal high holidays experience. We seek to turn these problems on their head – creating spiritual homes that are safe but can proclaim their purpose, and spaces for gathering and worship that perform at multiple scales while enabling the study of Torah, the celebration of life cycle events, and the continuity of the Jewish faith.
"Moe, Rebecca and Tony!! Working with you was one of the greatest privileges of my life. I learned so much from all of you. We created a truly sacred space, where pockets of holiness manifest throughout."
Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar | B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim
SYNAGOGUE DESIGN APPROACH (continued)
Build Community Support for the Project
Many projects require fundraising through grants, donations, or other sources. We can provide services to support these efforts using a variety of visualization tools to help clients and potential donors to understand what can be achieved. The professional renderings we create are realistic enough that everyone can begin to imagine themselves inhabiting the new space. Once support is in place, we proceed through the design and construction process, including all aspects of the space, from liturgical furnishings and art, to sustainable materials and systems.
For thirty years, we have been passionate about spiritual, welcoming and sustainable spaces for the Jewish community. That passion has only grown and continues today as we look towards the future of synagogues. Where do we go from here? We’ll go where you lead as co-creators of your, your children and grandchildren’s spiritual home.