Skokie Valley Synagogue Project Chicago, Illinois building renovations, US interior architecture development photos

Skokie Valley Synagogue, Chicago, IL

post updated May 30, 2023

Architects: Studio ST Architects

Location: 8825 E. Prairie Road, Skokie, Illinois 60076, USA

Skokie Valley Synagogue Chicago Illinois
photo © Andrew Bruah

Photos © Andrew Bruah, © Kendall McCaugherty

Skokie Synagogue, Illinois

Architects Studio ST are excited to announce that their renovation for Skokie Valley Synagogue building has been selected as a Special Mention in the Architizer A+ Awards for the Architecture +Renovation category. According to Architizer, less than 5% of the projects were selected as Special Mention honorees, out of the thousands submitted to the awards.

The work for the Skokie Valley Synagogue was also recently acknowledged in Patch’s article and during the congregation’s dedication event on May 21. Studio ST Architects are so happy to have made a huge difference in the synagogue’s community!

Skokie Valley Synagogue Chicago Illinois
photo © Andrew Bruah

Previously on e-architect:

Feb 2, 2023

Skokie Valley Synagogue renovation fosters light and inclusivity, by Studio ST Architects.
The Skokie Valley Synagogue renovation transformed the sanctuary, built in 1963, from a dark and formal space to an ethereal, light-filled and ADA accessible room for communal prayer.

Skokie Valley Synagogue Chicago Illinois
photo © Andrew Bruah

The original room was a long, dark hall with dim lighting and fixed theater-type seating.

Skokie Valley Synagogue Chicago
photo © Kendall McCaugherty

The renovation converted the large stage into new, modern bathrooms and a coat room. The synagogue’s one year renovation was led by New York based architecture firm, Studio ST Architects.

Skokie Valley Synagogue Chicago
photo © Kendall McCaugherty

The main sanctuary was reconfigured. A large triangular skylight was installed in the center of the room, lighting the location of Chazan, the prayer leader. The existing vertical windows were replaced with clear glass, and the old candelabra chandeliers were removed. New minimal LED linear cove uplights were installed, washing the original building’s angled roof geometry, illuminating the room with indirect light. Similarly, the tan brick walls were painted with a coat of white lime wash, brightening the space while respecting its past.

Skokie Valley Synagogue Chicago Illinois Skokie Valley Synagogue Chicago Illinois
photos © Andrew Bruah

“The space was originally very formal, dark and austere,” says Esther Sperber, founder of award-winning, woman-owned architecture firm, Studio ST Architects. “Our goal was to brighten and modernize the Skokie Valley Synagogue, organizing the spaces so that the prayer leader is in the center and closer to the congregation. The result is a beautiful, contemporary sanctuary which creates a sense of communal intimacy while paying reverence to the synagogue’s past.”

Skokie Valley Synagogue Chicago Skokie Valley Synagogue Chicago
photos © Kendall McCaugherty

Movable chairs replaced the fixed seats and reoriented the focus of prayer east toward Jerusalem. The new seats allow for flexibility and bring the congregation closer to the ark and bimah—the reading table from which the prayer service and Torah reading are led.
The sanctuary’s focal point is the ark where the sacred Torah scrolls are held.

Skokie Valley Synagogue Chicago
photo © Kendall McCaugherty

The inspiration for the ark’s irregular geometry is the Kabbalistic idea of the “broken vessels”—a concept that symbolizes our charge as human beings to repair the world. The design of the ark and bimah, which are connected by a new ADA accessible raised platform, also respond to the existing structure and geometry. The movable bimah accommodates a variety of users and can be adjusted for ADA needs.

A highlight to the design are the custom-made glass mechitzah panels (partitions) separating the men’s and women’s sections, while allowing both sides to see the service. The glass has the entire Friday evening service etched on it, creating a pattern of translucent forms made of Hebrew letters. The architect and congregation were committed to creating a space that is infused with the values of ethics and aesthetics. The goal was to create a contemporary and inclusive space that allows congregants to experience both the communal aspects of praying together and the personal intimate spiritual experience.

Skokie Valley Synagogue Chicago Skokie Valley Synagogue Chicago
photos © Kendall McCaugherty

Skokie Valley Synagogue in Chicago, Illinois – Building Information

Client: Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue
Address: 8825 E. Prairie Road, Skokie, IL 60076
Completion Date: 2022
Area: 17,400 sq. ft, total, 5,500 sq. ft. renovated area

Design Team
Design Architect: Studio ST Architects –
Architect of Record: Auerbach Architects
Ark and Judaica Design: Amy Reichert Design
Structural Engineer: Goodfriend Magruder Structure LLC
MEP Engineers: Calor Design Group Ltd.
Acoustical Engineer: Aercoustics
Lighting Consultant: Castelli Lighting
General Contractor: Twenty 9, Inc.

Skokie Valley Synagogue Chicago
photo © Kendall McCaugherty

Photography: © Andrew Bruah, © Kendall McCaugherty
Instagram: @andrewbruah, @kendallaileen, @hallmerrickphoto
Email: [email protected], [email protected]

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Skokie Synagogue, Chicago Illinois images / information received 020223 from Studio ST Architects

Location: 8825 E. Prairie Road, Skokie, Chicago, IL, United States of America

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