KNESSETH ISRAEL CONGREGATION SYNAGOGUE
MOUNTAIN BROOK, ALABAMA
After more than 50 years at their location on Montevallo Road in Mountain Brook, the facilities of Knesseth Israel Congregation had seen better days. The Orthodox Jewish Shul was looking to energize their existing members as well as attract new members and their families.
The new location on Overton Road allows the congregation to remain in Mountain Brook and within walking distance of many members' homes. This allows the members to adhere to a Sabbath requirement of not using automobiles. The new site is located just outside Overton Village in a wooded, mainly residential area. The area is a "walkable" community that provides the sidewalk system necessary for members' easy access to the new facility.
Appropriately for such a conservative congregation, the exterior design is based on 18th century European synagogues. Examples of this are the recessed horizontal brick courses and the arches within an arch on the main facades.
Preserving the existing mature tree canopy and keeping the building mass and materials to a residential scale and feel were both important aspects of this design. To accomplish this, the plan is split between the office/classroom wing and the sanctuary/social hall wing. The office/classroom wing, running parallel to Overton Road, has a lower eave line and a reduced mass, creating a more human scale. The sanctuary/social hall wing consists of higher volume areas. This larger mass is stepped back from the street, skewed 6° from the classroom wing and is parallel to the rear property line.
Knesseth Israel Congregation
Mountain Brook, Alabama