Gold Winner 2023 – Ansche Chesed Synagogue - Architecture Collection
Gold Winner of the Architecture & Design Collection Awards 2023

Ansche Chesed Synagogue

Architecture
Structural Renewal and Revitalization

Architect / Designer:

Esther Sperber, Jillian Kranz

Studio:

Studio ST Architects

Design Team:

Owner’s Representative: Robert Salpeter & DBI Projects General Contractor: Alexander Wolf and Sons Structural Engineer: Silman MEP Engineers: Goldman Copeland Consulting Engineers Acoustical Engineer: SH Acoustics Lighting Consultant: Castelli Lighting Graphic Design and Wayfinding: Piscatello Design Donor Wall Design: Amy Reichert Judaica

Copyright:

Bilyana Dimitrova

Country:

United States
The renovation of the 94-year-old Ansche Chesed Synagogue revitalizes the space to encourage a greater sense of community and to accommodate 21st century needs. The main challenge was redesigning the landmarked 1927 Romanesque-Byzantine synagogue to make the spaces feel more contemporary yet respectful of the building’s historical features. The architect reconfigured the synagogue’s lobby, offices and basement to improve functionality, aesthetics, accessibility and security. The upgrades create a welcoming space that represents the congregation’s amicable, down-to-earth identity. By relocating the previously windowless offices to the fifth floor, the lobby area tripled, creating a bright and welcoming space that invites people to hang out. The addition of oak bleacher-style seating, a large coat room, stroller parking, and all-gender ADA bathrooms accommodates the guests participating in the many programs and services that occur in the building throughout the day. The new fifth floor office suite provides a bright work environment with windows overlooking the Hudson River. Redesigning the basement level transformed the social hall and its annex, which is used during weekdays as a gymnastics gym, into a simple yet beautiful space that can also accommodate High Holiday services and events. The original terrazzo floor in the enlarged ground floor main lobby was restored, and a similar terrazzo tile complements it in the new lower lobby. Locating the security office and bullet resistant doors at the main entry adds safety to the building. The entry’s steel security doors have bullet resistant glazed openings and are clad in rich wood, simultaneously acting as a safety measure and a seamless design element that respects the synagogue’s historical characteristics. With these design choices, the renovation sought to provide much-needed upgrades to accommodate contemporary needs while respecting the synagogue’s past. The design addresses the needs of a wide range of user groups in the congregation, which has an older aging population and has also recently seen a big influx of younger families. A new elevator now allows people with mobility challenges to access the synagogue sanctuary, the upper and lower lobby on the ground floor, and the basement with dignity. With these modern-day upgrades, the renovation encourages moments of interaction and community, as well as chesed, or loving kindness, as a reflection of the synagogue’s namesake.

Studio ST Architects

Studio ST Architects is an award-winning, woman-owned architecture firm in New York City. Esther Sperber founded Studio ST Architects in 2003 to focus on sustainable, innovative and responsible design. We design residential, multifamily housing and institutional buildings including synagogues and other places of worship. As New York City architects, our renovations range in scale from community centers, schools and high-end apartments to affordable real-estate developments, including duplex renovations, duplex combinations as well as apartment combinations. Our firm combines unique expertise in architecture and psychology to design inspiring buildings and renovate spaces that transform people’s experiences, build deep and inclusive community connections, and create a sense of health and well-being.

We encourage designers and architects to share their best projects with the rest of the world so as to inspire the next generation and gain global recognition.