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Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School Expansion

Construction commences in July 2018 on The Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School Expansion Project, which will establish the head and heart of an existing school, with a prominent daylight entry to the real social center of the school.

The building sits to the south of the existing school, which is characterized by an ad hoc series of masonry additions over time in a variety of expressions. To organize this assemblage, a taller, singular volume is placed on the site of the Field of Dreams, slightly proud, west of the existing buildings, thus anchoring the site. The program called for maximum transparency on the first floor, with less glazing on the two classroom floors and very little transparency within the gym where light and glare should be avoided. The addition is a solid volume eroding as it descends, floating over the ground plane.

The new building is clad in brick masonry to continue a dialog with the older structures. This said, here it is not dark and visually loadbearing, but visually lighter/brighter and expressed as a four-inch thick “fabric shell” which is draped over a metal structure, with spandrels and window systems rendered in dark bronze. The analogy is one of a brick prayer shawl; with the brick shell sliding just past the lintels and window jambs, so to be expressed and experienced from inside and outside.

The ground plane of the site is rendered as a carpet of two materials, a single plane of permeable pavers (entry drive and building forecourt), and the playing field. The paved surfaces are punctuated with inserted natural elements: trees and hedges, with large boulders to obviate the need for traditional security bollards.