NEW OMR Architects Logo
congregation kerem shalom, concord, ma

Thirteen years after designing the original synagogue for Kerem Shalom, OMR was rehired to guide the congregation through an expansion process to accommodate rapid increase in this community, which has grown from 100 to 350 families. This major renovation and addition provides a larger sanctuary, more social, and administration space as well as a permanent educational component.

Kerem Shalom is sited on a raised terrace overlooking a wetland meadow. The faceted, semicircular building wraps and protects the new sanctuary, deflecting noise from an adjacent highway, but still opens graciously to the wetlands and fields to the north.

From the parking area, one ascends to a raised terrace; continues through a new vestibule and lobby space, daylit from above by a clerestory on all four sides. First the entrance and then the lobby lead directly into a spacious reception area located between the social hall and the sanctuary. A series of glass panels, with mahogany doors at the center, are frosted with patterns reminiscent of the Tallis, the Jewish prayer shawl. This transparent wall acoustically separates, while visually connecting, the reception area with the new sanctuary. At the protected heart of the building sits the sanctuary with the Bema and Ark floating in the foreground surrounded by pastoral views to the north.

Six new classrooms in addition to three existing classrooms provide much needed educational space. The three existing classrooms have movable panels that quickly roll aside, providing additional space for the High Holidays and other large events.

Careful integration of permanent and multi-use spaces allow this building to accommodate the congregation’s diverse religious, educational, and social needs in one efficient facility that functions as both a house of worship and a community center. Subtle manipulation of light, juxtaposition of textures, and simple detailing all develop an abstract vocabulary of metaphorical religious symbols.