Jewish Community Center / ODA, Office for Design and Architecture


The Office for Design and Architecture has designed a new Jewish Community Center for , New York.  Sharing the site with an existing land mark synagogue from 1930, a school center from 1948 and a new wing of social facilities from 1966, the JCC’s space was limited.  Yet, the firm aimed to create a center that would serve as “an iconic sculptural statement in a moderately conservative community” even in the tight space.

More about the JCC after the break.


“The modern environmentally friendly building will represent this community as a symbol of the future. Its marriage to the historical buildings gives new perspective, new life and new meaning to the congregation and community at large,” explained the architects.


The JCC’s step back design, with the shortest part being closest to the temple and gradually growing to full height the farthest from the temple, allows the structure to compliment and not compete with the synagogue.  The center’s materials mix modern with traditional as white metal panels and glass rest upon a masonry base.

The entrance façade’s custom designed panels, the 12 panels symbolize the 12 tribes of Israel, are bent at an angle to create a clerestory window and bent at the top to create round skylights.  This configuration reduces energy consumption as natural light can fill spaces that need to be more private, such as the pool and the gymnasium.  All roofs are green and are accessible from the main program areas.  These open spaces allow the small site to not feel congested.


1st floor plan
1st floor plan
2nd floor plan
2nd floor plan
Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Jewish Community Center / ODA, Office for Design and Architecture" 20 Aug 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <>
  • Joshua

    Terrible. I’m all for minimal design but this is just monotony. The plans are unreadbale as well.

    • David Basulto [tricky]

      Dear Joshua,

      I just fixed the plans display.

  • Henry

    The system looks very similar to Renzo Piano’s. Especially the High Museum of Art. The design is not as cohesive though…

    • daily spread

      yes, first thought: renzo piano.

    • Alex Leonard

      I thought it was a RPBW building as soon as I saw it. I completely agree.

  • Cucmelo

    Quite boring. What more the design doesn`t have much to do with the function. I`m not the fan of “symbolism” but some visual accent here would be nice.

  • d

    imho, it wasn’t so bad, well the plan look bland, but i’m sure it’ll look a lot better on some interior views. and the contrast with the surrounding is quite at the proper level.

  • frank Wilson

    The plan solution is totally basic, it has an empty criteria of wannabe modern architecture with an orthodox concept of “tribes”. Exterior is not a response of the interior. Panels are made up, meaningless, empty, out of place.

  • Peter

    okay so let’s blame it on Karen Cliento’s poor judgment!

  • Peter

    and btw Karen if you are in charge of finding this stuff then be careful, clearly not a real project I just did a little google and it was a competition open to “jewish architects” and this “want to be a designer office” was a 1 of 5 finalist of a total number of 5 entries now that’s breaking news!

  • Karen Cilento

    Dear Peter,
    Since so many architects send us their work on ArchDaily, we share the projects we need covered among ourselves so we can share a lot of news with you. I understand you may not like this project or the firm, yet as David has mentioned before, we show a variety of projects that allow people to start a conversation about the pros/cons and what works or doesn’t work. ODA was concerned with adding a new aesthetic to the site while still not taking away from the land mark temple. If you disagree with their proposal, that’s fine…we just found the proposal worth sharing to hear what viewers had to say about ODA’s project.

  • T

    then pls apply some discretion!

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