TEMPLE BETH - EL
Hillsborough Township, New Jersey
Originally built in 1953 as a one-story office building, this modest structure eventually became the home of Temple Beth-El. The dual use sanctuary/multi-purpose room (originally built as a large accounting room) became increasingly inadequate as the congregation grew. The need for a larger gathering space and administrative offices also became apparent. This addition features a dedicated sanctuary, seating 218, which can be expanded on High Holidays and other occasions to accommodate over 600 congregants.
A new gathering space, several times larger than the original, and new administrative offices were also part of the building program. A landscaped courtyard and covered portico radiating from the sanctuary's east wall create a powerful and embracing public entry. The rusticated treatment of both the interior and exterior of the sanctuary's eastern wall, featuring oversized rough-cut blocks, is reminiscent of Jerusalem's Wailing Wall. A barrel vaulted skylight emanating from the floating planes of this wall and reaching deep into the sanctuary, heightens the sanctuary and emphasizes the traditional eastward focus of the ark towards Jerusalem.