Temple Emanu-El is a thriving Reform synagogue in Central Jersey. The existing building was built in phases over the past 35 years and was in need of reconfiguration and renewal. BH+L completed a Planning Study to explore options for renovations.
Brawer Hauptman + Larkin conducted numerous interviews and led a design charrette that included over 70 congregants. The resulting design included a new addition that not only solved the ambiguous entrance problem and provided more security and a new image for the building, but also created an upgraded and welcoming entrance experience, a reimagined lobby/gallery space, and livelier gathering and social spaces. The proposed renovations included a new, larger chapel and a reconfigured sanctuary.
The sanctuary design proposed removing the fixed pews and reorienting the flexible seating toward a lower, moveable bema centered on the room's attractive stained glass windows. Moveable partitions allowed the room to expand into the social hall to provide more seating when necessary , and new windows were proposed to bring natural light into spaces that are currently windowless.