Sephardic Community Center / BKSK

 Jonathan Wallen

The 100,000 square foot new Sephardic Community Center on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, NY is a transformative expansion of its 30-year old original building. It is symbolic of the central role it now plays in the surrounding neighborhood as an inter-generational facility. It expands upon the first Center’s stated mission to preserve and nurture the rich history and culture of the Sephardic Community, it offers coherence to the Center’s ever-widening program of educational, athletic and social services, and above all it extends a legible, clear invitation to all for participation in community events.

More photographs after the break.

Architects: BKSK Architects
Location: Brooklyn, New York, USA
Partner-in-Charge: Joan Krevlin, FAIA, LEED AP
Project Architect: Julia Nelson, AIA, LEED AP
Project Managers: David Kubik, AIA, LEED AP, Harpreet Dhaliwal, AIA, LEED AP
Interior Designer: Stacey Jattuso
Contractor: E.W. Howell
Structural Engineer: Weidlinger Associates Inc.
MEP Engineer: Lilker Associates Consulting Engineers
Civil Engineer: Michael Wein Civil Engineer
Landscape Architect: H.M. White Site Architects
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Jonathan Wallen, Jeffrey Totaro

 Jonathan Wallen

The original 50,000 square foot community center with its textured  and minimal fenestration was representative of its time, built with a circumscribed palette of durable and opaque materials. The building was characterized by a simple massing strategy and overall sense of solidity. ’s design of the expanded Center involves subtle changes to the original main façade, a layered glass and masonry composition for the new wing, and a continuous canopy to yoke them all together. A dialogue between the two is palpable, one that honors the building’s long-standing social importance and makes the facility’s striking evolution appear as inevitable.

 Jeffrey Totaro

The new complex now includes an additional street façade on a quieter residential street that further interprets the planar quality of the original building, and gracefully weaves an institutionally-scaled structure (gymnasium, preschool and community room) into the residential urban fabric. The deceptive simplicity of the exterior design only hints at the intricate programmatic puzzle of the interior.

 Jeffrey Totaro

The Center hosts activities and programs for all ages, including a gym,pool and spa; a 170- student preschool center; meeting spaces for a wide range of social groups and gatherings; a performance space; extensive administrative offices; and a celebratory space as a repository of cultural memory. An emphasis on spatial legibility extends a sense of welcoming order to the multi-story Heritage Hall entry lobby, from which the full range of activities becomes evident. The community’s shared lineage has become a true centerpiece of the lobby, with hundreds of ancestral images sandwiched between layers of glass.

 Jeffrey Totaro

Throughout the new and renovated areas a carefully wrought sense of coherence, an often- surprising visual connection between previously segregated functions, and the notable introduction of natural light to all circulation and informal gathering spaces has yielded a heightened sense of group interaction. An integral series of commissioned, site-specific artwork and unexpected furnishings that create areas of individual identity, support this building’s bold vision of a mutually supportive community.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Sephardic Community Center / BKSK" 29 Oct 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 20 Sep 2014. <>


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