With the opening of the original building in 1912, the Beth Israel Synagogue is the oldest Jewish congregation in Edmonton. Located in the West Edmonton community of Wolf Willow, the synagogue has long stood as an essential hub for both the city’s Jewish population and the surrounding community.
The Beth Israel community needed a new 1300-seat sanctuary that reflects both the essential traditions of Jewish culture and the modern, inclusive sensibility of its current values. In addition, a flexible 500-seat community gathering space allows for the large events supported by Kosher kitchens. A continuous walkway circumnavigates the sanctuary to provide access to the men's and women's seating spaces, the side prayer hall, the Mikvah, and the library.
The red brick exterior nods to the previous, much smaller downtown shul, detailed with horizontal banding designed to catch the snow in winter. The uneven and juxtaposing layers of the structure’s massing effects a compellingly modernist expression. Details include door pulls designed by local artists, for both north and south entrances. Situated by a ravine, the landscape design integrates the urban and natural, creating a walkable accessible synagogue in a car-oriented suburb.