Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects Inc.

Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects Inc.

Stanley Saitowitz
Natoma Architects Inc.

Kol El, Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia

Kol El is a Congregation with Orthodox roots, focused on building a community of unaffiliated west coast members. They are as much involved with the celebration of Jewishness as traditional worship.

Their new home is located on a busy main street, Arbutus, at the corner of Tenth. The building is connected to the corner, and becomes a passage from Arbutus to the pedestrian and bicycling track that parallels it at the rear.

The glass storefront ground floor houses a central community space flanked by two restaurants, one Milk, one Meat, which also serve as kitchens for synagogue events and dinners. This street level is transparent and open, and a participant in neighborhood life.

Four perimeter cores contain circulation and services. The second floor has daycare and a porch on the south, central flex rooms, and offices on the north. The third floor is a large multi-use space for worship and celebration. For High Holidays it can accommodate 500, for regular Shabbat 125, or during the weekdays, be divided into a series of meeting and learning spaces. The rooftop is for outdoor gatherings and weddings.

The sanctuary is invisibly lit by a perimeter clearstory which doubles as balustrade for the rooftop. A solid volume floats on the glass base public level. Incisions and sloping planes cut into the mass bring radiant light into the interior spaces.

In the basement is parking accessed off the side alley.