Erie, PA -
The project is a new 11,000 SF facility for Erie’s Temple Anshe Hesed Congregation. Previously located 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 weekly services, while passing the administrative and educational wings of the facility. The main circulation through the Temple connects the various functions and unites them. Visual connections help define the relationship between the Chapel and other prominent elements of the building program. The Chapel, located at the East end of the circulation path, can thus be experienced not just during prayer, but while using other parts of the building as well, and helps to orient congregants within the building. Window openings in the exterior wall were carefully designed to curate the connection between the interior and exterior. The Chapel is situated in such a way as 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 social hall allow the building to accommodate services for groups ranging from 30 to 200 congregants. The proposed layout allows for the ultimate flexibility in the use of 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 intricately cut metal panels with Hebrew lettering. The Chapel is the tallest element of the structure, designed as a 32 x 32 x 32 box, with a reference to 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 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 the ark.
Photos by KENNY STURM