Anshe Emet Synagogue Sanctuary and Chapel Transformation

Harding Partners in association with Michael Landau Architects, was selected in a national, invitation design competition to design a transformation of the Synagogue’s Sanctuary. For the competition design, the existing balcony was removed and the sanctuary reoriented east toward Jerusalem as is Jewish tradition. As the project moved forward the size of the project increased to include a new chapel, social hall, gymnasium/multipurpose space and synagogue offices with a new construction area of 46,000 SF.

Reflecting on 3,500 years of Jewish history, we looked to the rich symbolism of Judaism and incorporated those ideas and symbols in and artful, modern, and abstract manor. The new primary public face of the building is a “Western Wall” that includes a gently undulating sun shade that is inspired by the Torah laid on the Reader’s Table. Continuing with the Torah theme, a Torah medallion relief assumes a prominent place above the main entrance to the Synagogue. A vexing challenge was where to create a space for the Sukkah. A rooftop garden was developed for the “Sukkah in the Sky.”

Substantial effort was made to value engineer the project so that the visually rich and meaningful design would meet the congregation’s moderate budget. This included light gauge metal framed exterior walls originally developed and refined on Canty Elementary School by Harding Partners. The project uses cost effective green strategies with and energy payback of one to nine years. The project has been enthusiastically embraced by the Synagogue leadership because the design synthesizes meaningful symbolic concepts in a modern manner that is both green and cost effective.

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Area: 46,000 SF