When asked to design a building in Manhattan following the plans laid out for the Holy Tabernacle in the Torah, Hollwich Kushner (HWKN) faced one major obstacle – space. Unphased by the problem, the firm found a solution and created a glittering design called Parshat T’rumah as part of a new book called “UNSCROLLED: 54 Writers and Artists Wrestle with the Torah.” Using parameters described in the Bible, HWKN adapted the criss-crossed structure to fit amidst the New York skyscrapers by simply flipping it 90 degrees!
The book of Exodus envisions the Tabernacle in a desert – a very different place from the concrete jungle of Manhattan. HWKN looked to the Bible for the architectural proportions and organization of the synagogue, but made modern adjustments like forgoing “decorated cherubim and dolphin skins” for more contemporary details. Turning the structure on its side also meant that the first floors would be open, a characteristic uncommon in religious building design. That newfound openness and accessibility would invite all of the community to pass through, gather or marvel at the design.
Along the edges of the synagogue, HWKN designed a criss-cross of stair cases to bring visitors to the Brazen Altar and the Golden Altar on the floors above. The transparent structure would feature a small footprint of just 120 x 60 cubits, and would be surrounded by a lush and welcoming park space.
HWKN’s creative plan will be featured alongside 53 other artists’ interpretations of the Torah in “Unscrolled.”