Projects: Cultural and Religious Institutions

Congregation Or Zarua
New York, New York


RGR designed and managed the construction of a new synagogue for Congregation Or Zarua on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The eight-story synagogue houses a 270-seat sanctuary, social hall, library, kitchen, offices, and five classrooms. With a construction budget of $6M, the building was completed in 2001.

The firm designed the front elevation, facing East 82nd Street, using a quiet and serene palette of materials. The granite base anchors a limestone façade, while window and door openings are framed in stainless steel. A two-story curtain wall of patterned "rice paper" glass, also framed in stainless steel, punctuates the façade at the second and third floor levels, expressing the volume of the sanctuary, which lies beyond. The curtain wall provides diluted southern light while maintaining a sense of privacy for the sanctuary lobby.

The sanctuary includes accents of the same stainless steel, glass, and limestone that characterize the front façade. "Floating" balconies and a bridge are delicately anchored to columns that are set apart from the walls. Custom-designed lighting fixtures emulate the sloping balconies.

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