Temple Beth Or
Raleigh, NC

This reform synagogue is set on a heavily wooded five-acre site which slopes gently away from the road. The synagogue is approached from the east, providing an initial view of the Ark, the symbolic heart of the building. The public character of the approach dramatically changes the rear to a tranquil, private space for outdoor activity.

Throughout the project, we have aspired to make the symbols of Judaism and its culture inseparable from the architecture. The synagogue contains forms and fragments of the destroyed wooden synagogues of Eastern Europe. The strong geometrical roofs and curvilinear wood interiors (made from inexpensive pine boards) are two examples of these connections. An 1869 antique Ark rescued from Mt. Clemens, Michigan, and the symbolic gates, sculpted by a congregant, have become integral parts of the design.