Studio Dror Converts Old Gucci Store into Stylish Soho Synagogue

by , 08/08/11
filed under: Architecture,Manhattan

Having already been nicknamed the “hipster synagogue,” the new shul features green design elements that are visual double entendres, reflecting Jewish customs and traditions while also hinting at a modern, urban culture. The dual meanings begin with the synagogue’s striped window facade. The partial coverage allows for privacy inside the house of prayer, and evokes the lines of the tallit shawl that men wear for praying. On the flip side of that, the stripes recall the space’s former life in retail by resembling a bar code.

studio dror, soho synagoge, soho synagogue dror, green design, hipster synagogue, dror Benshetrit, sustainable designimage © John Hall

Inside, visitors are greeted in a long narrow reception area, where a desk is made of Dror’s famous QuaDror architectural building blocks. A wall of decorative blue bricks displays the names of donors, and the lighting tracts on the ceiling continues to play with double meanings. The converging paths can look like the outline of a menorah or the modern grid of a subway map.

The reception area leads to a small steel and glass stairwell that overlooks the underlevel prayer room where modern LED Edison bulbs provide a soft, warm glow. Designed to accommodate services and events, the space’s elements can be adapted and moved at will. Pieces of art on the walls consist of panels that can be un-hung and made into more chairs and tables, and the comfortable plush couches are suitable both as prayer benches and event seating.

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The main focus of the prayer room is the beautiful, yet untraditionally designed, Torah arc at the center of the space. The arc has an “unusual round shape made of overlapping circles that slide open and close, each of which holds one of the triangles that form the star of David when slide-closed on top of one another. Fashion designer Yigal Azrouel selected and wrapped the fabric on the Torah arc. This interpretation of the religious element conducts Dror’s consistent sensitivity for transformation and motion in objects of our living environments.”

The prayer room walls were stripped bare to expose the brick walls, giving the space a raw, industrial feel. Dror used seven of the brick floor joist squares that were revealed to create a menorah fresco. By reusing original architectural elements, Dror pays homage to the building’s history and display elements of the original design.

+ Dror Studio

All photos © John Hall



  1. Putu Jody March 29, 2014 at 4:48 pm
    cool design
  2. Suhraby Yensi August 7, 2013 at 2:48 pm
    Spiritually Dead!