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Building Report

By David Moed, Architect
Originally published in Mitteilungen, Vol. 14 September-October 1952

After many weeks of blueprint preparation and research, construction was begun in February, 1951. The first step was the excavation to a depth of 15 ft. for the building proper and 25 ft. for the sub-basement and boiler room. Pile-driving became imperative when it was found that the lot consisted of hard-rock fill dumped there by the city a number of years ago when the nearby 8th Avenue subway was constructed. 108 piles, mostly of wood, were driven 40-50 ft. below the surface. These were designed to carry the different loads in the main structure. They are tied at basement level with heavy reinforced concrete beams.

The superstructure consists of steel, brick walls and reinforced concrete floors and balcony. The roof is of novel construction, consisting of light steel joists (open webs) and concrete roof planks. Special permission by the NYC Chief Engineer was obtained for this light, but fireproof construction. Following the method used in many new government buildings, the roof is practically level, allowing rainwater to evaporate and adding to the cooling of the roof-deck. Rubberoid roof covering laid with very low pitch towards leaders completes the roof features.

Special steps were taken to make the basement floor absolutely damp-proof. A concrete floor was first placed over pile caps and beams; then covered with an asphalt waterproof membrane and finished with a 4" reinforced concrete slab. All floors are covered with asphalt tiling.

General Planning: Recessed garden plots on both sides of the main entrance were designed in order to give full-sized windows to the West wing of the school floor. The same applies to the rear where a rear yard of 20 ft. was created between the building line and the lot line in order to insure good visibility even with a 3-story building rising in the rear lot adjoining Broadway. Space was also allotted for the two side entrances leading to the ladies gallery, as well as to the two entrances of the Yeshiva on the North and South sides of the building.

The windows are of steel-sash, with openings at the top and bottom in order to insure adequate air circulation. Amber-colored hammered glass was installed instead of the customary transparent panes to give the inside of the building a warmer and more intimate atmosphere. The front is dominated by two long windows going through the two stories and topped by two seven-arm limestone Menorahs, complemented by the large center motif of the two tablets, also of limestone.

In order to obtain an even and adequate distribution of artificial lighting of the auditorium, a pattern of recessed ceiling-lighting was installed. A colored lens was used for the individual lights to diminish glare and distribute even illumination. A chandelier, of ornamental design, will give adequate lighting to the Almemor and for Keriath Hatorah, in addition to the four lamps for the four corners of the Almemor.Two candelabra were especially designed for the front walls on both sides of the Ark to serve as lights for Shabbos, Yom Tov, Rosh Chodesh, etc., when different lights will burn. Yahrzeit and memorial lamps are also installed on both sides of the Ark. Two Menorah, Chanukka and Brith Milah, were designed to harmonize in their dark bronze color with the walnut background of the Ark.

The heating of the building consists of a two-pipe hot water system, having a three-zone control. One zone circulates the warm air to the main convectors all around the building. The second zone controls the units installed on both sides of the East wall to heat the Synagogue body on colder days. The third zone controls the school-heating.

Plumbing fixtures in adequate numbers were installed in restrooms at different levels of the building, with brass piping used throughout. Ducts for air conditioning are incorporated in the building and can at any time be connected to compressors and cooling towers for which room is available in the basement. The ducts were installed at this time to avoid hanging them from the ceiling at a later date and thus ruining the interior aspect of the building. It is to be hoped that the entire air conditioning will be completed in time for next year's hot season.

Five bodies of pews, each chair having its own box, were installed in the main Synagogue. Lateral aisles were designed to facilitate access to the Almemor. The pews in the ladies gallery on the three sides of the Synagogue are placed on tiers to give them adequate pitch. The seats tilt upwards and have been designed for comfort and appearance. The Mechitza is made of iron grill-work.

The Ark is of essentially a modern design with neo-oriental flavor. The central section accommodates 14 Seforim with two adjoining rooms for Klei-Kodesh and Porauches. Instead of the customary two tablets, a crown (Kesser Torah) was selected. Doors and Porauches are designed to slide into the Ark-recess.

The Almemor follows the same architectural lines as the Ark. Space at the rear was allocated to the choir master, and the area behind the Almemor is slightly raised to serve as choir space.

Extra cubage made it possible to create two good-sized rooms above the two stair-halls leading to the gallery. These rooms may be used as offices, storage, etc.

The six columns supporting the gallery are covered with Italian marble. Special waterproofing provisions were made to protect the Ark from dampness and moisture.

Cloakrooms for the ladies are available upstairs, and for the men in a recessed niche on the second floor, where movable aluminum racks on wheels will be placed which can be removed during school hours. On the main floor there are two small rooms on the North and South sides which are used as Rabbi's study and office, resp. They may also be used for weddings and, if need be, for additional cloakroom space.

Two fountains for washing purposes are on both sides of the lobby. A large memorial tablet and a War Veterans plaque are also part of the lobby design, which was outfitted with special lighting arrangements.

A time clock for Shabbos and Yomtov is built in the rear wall.

The school floor consists of nine classrooms, six of which are on the East side (Broadway). Located on the West side are two offices, a teachers room, a first aid room, a library and music room, and three classrooms. Throughout, only fluorescent lighting is being used, with the very latest equipment installed. Two drinking fountains are located near both ends of the hall. Large rest rooms with special fixtures for smaller children are designed of pleasant tiling and light gray partitions. There are two entrances on the North and South sides, protected on the lot line by wire fences. All windows are wired from the outside. A buzzer system connects each classroom with the main office. Two gates close the school floor off the main Synagogue hall.




Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784