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Modernism for an Ancient Pastime

One of Boston's newest additions is the Kollel of Greater Boston—a post-graduate Talmudic research institute that trains future Rabbis—built in the city's historic Brighton district.

The Kollel of Greater Boston is located in the city's Brighton district.
The Kollel of Greater Boston is located in the city's Brighton district.

Rabbi Naftali Bier, who heads the Kollel, aimed to create a relaxing atmosphere regardless if the person visiting the synagogue was a member of their community or a complete stranger.

The Kollel's entryway.
The Kollel's entryway.

Using light and color, architects Miriam Tropp Spear and Sharon Jacobson, and Framingham-based builder L/R Construction achieved a very balanced, bright, and inviting atmosphere throughout the structure.  "Everyone remarks on how the space feels so much larger than it actually is," says Rabbi Bier.

In the rear, triangular window bay juts from the building's main mass.
In the rear, triangular window bay juts from the building's main mass.

 

The trapezoidal site itself posed some challenges, as did the fact that it was located in a historic district. The Kollel worked closely with the Aberdeen Historical Society to ensure that the structure would weave into the neighborhood fabric rather than stick out like a sore thumb.

The Kollel was an adaptive-reuse project, the original structure shown here. Members of the Kollel and the Aberdeen Historical Socitety worked closely with the architect and builder to ensure that the new building would respect the neighborhood's Classica
The Kollel was an adaptive-reuse project, the original structure shown here. Members of the Kollel and the Aberdeen Historical Socitety worked closely with the architect and builder to ensure that the new building would respect the neighborhood's Classical Revival history.

They settled on a minimalist golden brick facade, whose color and material were the same as the existing structure on the site. As a result, the new building is in sync with the surrounding 1920's Classical Revival structures without being a throwback to the style. The rear, though, takes more liberties, such as the triangular window bays that jut from the main mass.

The building's perimeter echoes the irregular trapezoidal site.
The building's perimeter echoes the irregular trapezoidal site.

 

Time and again, we are confronted with the issue of what makes "good" architecture. Though not avant-garde, it is a respectful neighbor, provides for the needs of its users, keeps them happy, was completed under-budget, and--above all--is a completely functional space. How many buildings can say that?

The main interior space serves as an education center and is where worship services are held.
The main interior space serves as an education center and is where worship services are held.

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