The synagogue : a new synagogue for Austin, Texas



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[The architect] must fulfill the obligation to first, analyze and define meanings inherent to the task at hand and then, within the context of satisfying the demands of functionality and structural soundness, attempt to expressively convey these meanings through the manipulation of spatial forms and surface articulation. When the "project at hand" involves the accommodation and expression of religious needs and meanings the process of analysis and design becomes an exploration into the essences of an organized approach to spirituality. These essences must be articulated with sensitivity and care so that the delicate philosophical nuances important to a refined comprehension of a religion will not be engulfed or obscured by a few sweeping and simplistic architectural gestures. This synagogue project involves such an investigation. An attempt has been made to clarify and describe the evolution of the synagogal institution as both an outgrowth and embodiment of Judaic principles. Examples of past synagogues are also presented in order to gain an understanding of the manner in which the synagogue and its liturgically required elements have been architecturally accommodated and expressed over time. In doing so, the meanings invested in the synagogue and its components are revealed and then discussed in order to define further and articulate the obligations and responsibilities required of the contemporary synagogue architect committed to creating a meaningful and expressive religious environment