Cultural Unity Through Design: Inside the Moise Safra Center

Photography by James Ewing / JBSA.

Historically, Ashkenazim and Sephardim have flourished in their own spaces. But when a son of Jewish philanthropist Moise Safra set out to open the Moise Safra Center in New York, he was looking to bring them together in a multiuse setting. The resulting 14-story building by Platt Byard Dovell White Architects unites religious, social, and athletic facilities in a clean-lined interior.

Photography by James Ewing / JBSA.

Much of its 65,000 square feet centers on a “tone-on-tone palette,” consulting partner Ray Dovell says. On the community levels, which offer fitness studios, basketball, and swimming, the palette is rendered in such materials as bamboo planks and wood-grained porcelain tile. In the center’s double-height Ohel Moshe Synagogue, the approach continues. Dovell and team selected Jerusalem limestone flooring, rift-cut oak millwork, and bronze hardware.

“A synagogue and a community center are united in a vertical campus,” says Dovell. Photography by James Ewing / JBSA.

Moments of color enliven the overall setting. Landscapeform’s azure chaise longues appoint the pool, and stained glass mosaics embellish the synagogue doors. Inside, gentle washes of blue and yellow emit from film applied to windows by French artist Daniel Buren.

Photography by James Ewing / JBSA.
Photography by James Ewing / JBSA.

Read next: Michael K Chen Transforms Bronx Choir Loft Into Library for Underprivileged Children

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