Erie, PA -
The projects is a new 11,000 SF facility for Erie’s Temple Anshe Hesed Congregation. Previously located in downtown Erie, PA, the new site and building respond to the congregation’s needs with a modern building, flexible spaces and substantial site improvements. The main entry leads to a chapel sized for small groups and weekday services as well as the administrative and educational wings of the facility. The main circulation through the Temple connects and unites the various functions. Visual connections help define the relationship between the chapel and other prominent elements of the building program. Window openings in the exterior wall were carefully designed to curate the connection between the interior and exterior. The chapel, located at the east end of the circulation path, is experienced not just during prayer but while using other parts of the building as well, and helps orient congregants within the building. The chapel is placed to take advantage of the available views in the east and south directions. The social hall, located off of the chapel, can be subdivided into smaller spaces to accommodate simultaneous events and activities with the use of soundproof curtains. Operable partitions between the chapel and the social hall allow the Temple to accommodate religious services for groups ranging from 30 to 200 congregants. The layout allows for the ultimate flexibility in the use of the space.
The exterior is designed with a minimal brick façade, while regularly spaced vertical windows create a rhythm along the walls. The entry is covered with metal panels intricately cut with Hebrew lettering. The chapel is the tallest element of the structure, designed as a 32 x 32 x 32 box, a reference to Jewish mystical interpretations of the Bible (Kabbalah) and the sacred nature of the building’s program. A horizontal window within the chapel connects congregants to nature and the beautifully wooded site. An additional window facing north and a skylight over the bimah (stage) add a different dimension and quality of light to the space. An angled ceiling volume within the chapel focuses the space over the bimah and ark where the Torah scrolls are kept.
Photos by KENNY STURM