Designed by studio Natoma Architects in San Francisco, this religious building features a local red brick facade as a textured fabric draped in an abstract menorah.
Drexel University’s Hillel House is sheathed in local red brick as a textured fabric draped in an abstract menorah that terraces down to the street. Arranged on four interconnected levels, the square building has thickened side walls which contain services, and four central columns which structure the middle, front and rear.
The building is organized on four interconnected levels: the basement contains the kitchens, storage and mechanical areas; the street level is dedicated to everyday life, to meeting and talking, siting around a fire, gathering and eating at the rear which opens to a garden; the second floor is for focused activities, offices for planning and arranging, rooms for quiet study and discussion, places for groups and gathering, spaces for exploration and learning; the top floor is the place of worship, the Shabbat floor, the level of sanctity.
At the top floor, the three prayer gatherings – conservative, orthodox and reform – are connected with a central court that opens with a circular cut, an absent dome to the sky above. This is the only view in the city free of the works of man. This absent sanctuary is what is common and connects the three branches of worship in shared faith.
Drexel University’s Hillel House, San Francisco, USA
Architect: Natoma Architects – Stanley Saitowitz
Area: 4,237 sqm