Congregation Emanu-El B'Ne Jeshurun
River Hills, Wisconsin

Founded in 1856 Emanu-El is the oldest Jewish Congregation in the State of Wisconsin. In 2004 the congregation commissioned PKPD to design a sacred space and master plan for the site.

The twelve million dollar project included a complete renovation of the existing building and an addition which includes; a sanctuary, interior promenade, catering kitchen, bathrooms, community hall, library, lounge, and fully remodeled education and administrative spaces. The project was constructed over a 16 month period and was dedicated on September 11, 2009.

The Jewish people look to the Torah (Five Books of Moses) to give life significance. The Torah gives form, shape, and meaning to the matter of the world. There are Jewish laws derived from the Torah that are a code for human conduct and outline ideas that affect all parts of life including synagogue architecture.

They shall make a sanctuary for Me-so I may dwell among them - like everything that I show you, the form of the Tabernacle and the form of all its vessels; so shall you do.
— Exodus 25:8

The new sacred and social spaces at Emanu-El are designed within the historical, philosophical, and religious context of a rich Jewish and liturgical architectural heritage.Form and meaning in architecture are the poetry of design. The Emanu-El project intentionally references the most important ideas found in Judaism.

Sustainability is paramount in the design of Emanu-El. The timber beams, operable windows, natural local stone, and interior finishes all reflect a refined natural sensibility. The design integrates a green roof to reduce storm water run-off. The wetlands are protected and preserved and the retention pond is naturalized and accessible to the community by means of a walking trail, gardens, terraces and outdoor spaces.

The sanctuary at Emanuel is set in nature uniting the natural and man/woman made environments, the glass and masonry are an interplay of opposites. Sacred space is a threshold or luminal space between heaven and earth or the human and the Divine. The Sacred Space links these worlds and is a conduit between them.

  • $12 MILLION

  • 45,000 SF SQ. FT

  • COMPLETED: 2010