Rockville, MD -
Kol Shalom asked that their home be humble, inspirational, and connected to nature, with a strong emphasis on green architecture. These themes shaped the structure and were referenced throughout the process.
The building with sanctuary space, administrative offices, classrooms, bathrooms, catering kitchen and support services, is designed with the anticipation of future expansion for sanctuary space and social hall, as well as a second level of classrooms.
The form came out of the desire to incorporate two concepts: protection and welcoming. The exterior masonry walls enclose that which is hidden inside, protecting it from the outside. The custom masonry inset panels recall Jewish holidays that are connected to nature. The variation in the texture of the masonry walls and strip windows play off of the velocity of the movement on the adjacent road. Their height responds to the scale of the neighborhood.
In contrast, the main entry arch welcomes the congregation inside and breaks the protective exterior wall. The form recalls the shape of the Hebrew letter ה, representing the name of God. The main doors are decorated with a bronze tree design, recalling the Tree of Life. The glass walls between the entrance and masonry wings are covered with a custom Hebrew letter pattern.
The sanctuary is an open and tranquil spiritual space. The 15-foot high ceilings and full height windows allow light in, connecting the space to the wooded area at the back of the site. The ark is a17-foot wide cantilevered structure, with stained glass sliding doors. The imagery, commissioned by the congregation, recalls nature.
The project is LEED Gold certified. Some of the major elements incorporated into the design include a geothermal well system, green roof, and views to the outside and continuous insulation outside of the exterior wall framing to reduce thermal bridging.
Photos by ALAN KARCHMER