The award-winning architectural firm CetraRuddy designed the new 52,000 sq. ft. Lincoln Square Synagogue on Amsterdam Avenue and 69th Street, one block south of its present location. The synagogue recently held its first religious service in the new sanctuary and is officially open in February.
The new ground-up structure consists of three above-grade and two below-grade spaces along with extensive outdoor activity areas for educational and holiday uses. The synagogue contains a sanctuary space on the first floor, with pews that seat 442 congregants in the round, and a 160 person Beit Midrash, the House of Study, which serves as the primary place for learning within the synagogue. Additionally, the building contains secondary educational spaces, administrative offices and a 6,500 square foot banquet space to seat approximately 400 people.
Charged with blending synagogue architecture and traditional spirituality with the doctrines of Modern Orthodoxy, CetraRuddy began the project with a deep understanding of its congregation’s mission.
The Hebraic consciousness of prayer, reflection, study and education formed the architectural and spatial concepts and the organization within the building. The idea was to create a ‘journey’-a procession from the most public spaces to the more private spaces and the continuity from exterior to interior was a major influence in the design.
John Cetra, founding partner of CetraRuddy and design principal of the project.
Lincoln Square is a unique place within the Modern Orthodox movement. We have an extremely diverse group of congregants and offer an intimate and inclusive spiritual experience. Because our synagogue is at the center of our congregants’ lives, we needed to create a technologically modern building that works within Jewish law and that develops an immediate spiritual bond and sense of community for all who enter.
Synagogue’s Rabbi, Shaul Robinson.
It was our goal to design a structure that enhanced the cohesiveness of the congregation and connected congregants to each other. Moreover, the building had to serve all the countless daily activities-everything from prayer, children and adult classes, to numerous joyous events.
Theresa Genovese, associate principal at CetraRuddy and principal in charge of design and construction of the synagogue.
In response to both the spiritual and educational requirements, the CetraRuddy design team was inspired by Jewish symbolic references and inspirational imagery and spent significant time with the congregants to understand their needs.
These influences shaped our thought process on how to create a building which is both spiritual and public. With the completion of the project, congregants will experience the building each day and know they are in a unique place crafted for them alone and one that reflects the continuum of their heritage.
The design of the façade and sanctuary were inspired by the form and curvilinear nature of the Torah, in addition to the pattern and movement of the prayer shawls and the elegant dance-like movement of the congregants as they pray. The selection of materials spoke to the history of Judaism-traditional biblical references such as Cedar of Lebanon wood were used along with rusticated granite, fabric-impregnated glass and burnished bronze.
The magnificent façade is composed of five ribbons of glass that represent the five books of the Torah. The façade’s custom glass walls are interlayered with a glistening bronze tone fabric that begins on the exterior and wraps into the public spaces on the first floor. The sanctuary takes a circular form so that men and women can continue to sit separately yet face the ark and the Torah without visual interference. The sanctuary’s ceiling is lit by 613 lights which correspond to the number of commandments in the Torah.
Guided by the symbolic references to the Torah and the nomadic tabernacle-tent structure, our mission was to convey the heart and spirituality of the congregation, and the warmth that radiates out to the surrounding community.
+ About Lincoln Square Synagogue
From its beginnings in 1964 in an apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Lincoln Square Synagogue has grown into an institution that has become a model for Modern Orthodox Judaism. The Synagogue moved to its current location at 200 Amsterdam Avenue in 1970 and has developed into a diverse and vibrant Modern Orthodox Congregation that provides religious, social, educational services and outreach to the unique Jewish community of the Upper West Side of New York. The synagogue strives to be a model in the integration of Orthodox Judaism and contemporary life to the broader Jewish community.
+ About CetraRuddy
CetraRuddy is an international award-winning architecture and interior design firm driven by design excellence and creating one-of-a-kind architectural experiences. Intellectually crafted projects are developed with a unique design sensitivity, resourcefulness and commitment to client objectives. Throughout the United States and abroad, CetraRuddy applies a problem-solving approach to projects across various sectors including residential, hospitality, commercial, education and cultural.
CetraRuddy is known for their creative problem-solving capabilities and expertise in educational and institutional projects. CetraRuddy has a long history of working with such organizations, including Columbia University, New York University, Weill-Cornell Medical Center, Touro College, Carnegie Hall and Long Island University.
Founding Principals John Cetra and Nancy Ruddy have been providing quality design for 25 years. Along with four other highly accomplished Associate Principals; Brian McFarland, Eugene Flotteron, Theresa Genovese and Ximena Rodriguez; they contribute their sophisticated understanding of branding, technology and construction to each of the firm’s projects, providing an unparalleled level of personalized service. With a staff of 60 talented professionals, CetraRuddy develops technically excellent and innovative designs, enabling the firm to meet the needs of today’s most sophisticated clients.