Beth El Chapel

Beth El Chapel

  • Owner: Beth El Congregation
  • Size: 5,300 SF
  • Cost: $1,200,000
  • Completion Date: 1998

The dominant form of this 200 seat chapel is a vaulted roof that recalls the traditional forms of early center-bima synagogues. It is twisted along its diagonal axis to reinforce solar orientation as well as to establish a rotation around a center cupola over the bima, further emphasizing the centrality of the space.

Early synagogues were often surrounded by high walls with small punched windows, providing protection from an often hostile public; a design form which is continued in the main synagogue’s facade. A "thick" wall shelters the new chapel on three sides, echoing these forms, while providing a layer of indirect light and containing ancillary seating as well as the ark.

Solar orientation is maximized to provide the chapel with distinct moods for daily morning and evening services. The modified vault and the surrounding walls give way to large expanses of glass at the East and West corners in which stained-glass windows depicting pillars of smoke and fire further mark the passage of the sun.