Located on New York’s Upper East Side, the Moise Safra Center was envisioned as a second home for its young Jewish community. Faced with a tight site and an ambitious program, the 65,000 square foot building is packed with community and religious spaces in a vertical campus of 14 floors.
The modern design is a reflection of the sensibilities of its members, young and forward thinking while at the same time honoring the traditions of their community. The building provides a safe place for the pursuit of cultural, educational, and spiritual endeavors while creating a lively setting for social interaction and community engagement.
Harkening back to its spiritual roots, the client requested that Jerusalem limestone be used prominently. Starting with the carved round column at the building entry, and extending into the Synagogue lobby, the limestone marks the religious spaces of the building.
Monumental limestone-clad fins at the exterior allow a glimpse of the contemporary interpretation of stained glass, hinting at the religious space enclosed within.
The Synagogue lobby is faced with limestone on three sides, extending up the stair that leads to the Synagogue spaces above. Opposite is a backlit wall of veined white marble, laminated with glass to create a translucent screen to the community center lobby beyond.
The double height synagogue has a soaring ceiling and wraparound balcony, yet is an intimate gathering space. Limestone frames the entry doors, and leads down the center aisle to the ark. With its oversized bronze and colored glass doors, the ark is the focal point of the space and guardian of the sacred scrolls within. The doors are set in a field of white onyx, and surrounded by limestone as the culmination of the formal design language that began at the entry.