LGBT Synagogue in New York by ARO
One week ago, as New Yorkers celebrated Pride Week, Architecture Research Office (ARO) announced its plans for a new synagogue, built for the 40-year-old LGBT religious institution Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. Formerly based in the West Village, in a hidden courtyard of West Beth, the congregation sought a more visible space that would raise its activism-heavy profile. The Cooper-Hewitt Design Award-winning firm led by Adam Yarinsky, Stephen Cassell and Kim Yao, with Cassell acting as principal on the project, helped CBST find 50 feet of street front for the new synagogue in a historic Cass Gilbert building on West 30th Street. Find out more of what's in store in our slideshow.
Stephen Cassell explains that CBST's rabbi felt like their previous home was "like trying to find a 1970s lesbian bar--the synagogue was closeted." Now, as of the 2014 projected opening, the congregation will be located in a space designed with transparency, intimacy, and warmth. The flexible interior spaces are meant to do double- and triple-duty for its community, one of the country's oldest and most influential lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) faith-based groups.
Cassell says of the impending visual presence for CBST: "One of the nice things we were able to do, since it's a modern synagogue, is interpret 'radical traditionalism.' Being able to put a modern design inside a traditional building alludes to how the [congregation] practices Judaism itself."