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project client

Akiba Yavneh Academy

Akiba Yavneh, Inc.

architect

Gromatzky Dupree & Associates

design team

Charles E. Gromatzky, AIA; Jeffery F. Smith. AIA; Craig

Henry, AIA; Mark Daniels, AIA contractor consultants

Andres Construction Services Smith Engineering (structural); Brockette, Davis,

Drake (civil); Telios, P.C. (MEP); SMR Landscape Architects (landscape); H.G. Rice & Company (food service); HBC Engineering (geotechnical, material testing); SecureNet (security); Pelton Marsh Kinsella (acoustics); Barrier Free Texas (accessibility); Libra-Tech (furnishings) photographer

Charles Kendrick & Co.

The journey that began centuries ago finds a rest stop within the urban fabric of North Dallas with the new Akiba Yavneh Academy, a private pre-K-12 school that caters to the city’s Modern Orthodox Jewish community. Built as the legacy of the Schultz and Rosenberg families, the academy’s 8.5-acre campus is envisioned as a metaphorical bridge connecting “that which is sacred” and “that which belongs to everyday life.” The campus, located in a predominantly commercial district just north of Medical City, was designed by Gromatzky Dupree and Associates of Dallas. Encompassing a total of 114,000 square feet, the academy’s seven buildings comprise facilities allocated to a synagogue, pre-kindergarten, lower school, middle school, high school, athletics, and administration. Equally important are related landscaped spaces that are integral to understanding the campus as they act both as foreground and background to the architecture. These include an open-air amphitheater, a working garden, interstitial spaces, and activity areas. The architectural detailing of the buildings demonstrates a high level of craftsmanship and skill in rendering an engaging educational environment. Overall, the compact and cohesive campus presents a surprisingly open “oasis” within its urban context of high-rises and other commercial structures looming just beyond its boundaries. According to Jaynie Schultz, one of the benefactors of the academy, the new campus represents a dialogue between the Jewish community’s sacred and the secular aspects. At the onset of the project, the architects were asked to explore the Torah for direction in designing a place that would enhance spiritually growth while also serving as a vessel for learning to navigate the everyday world. “We gave form to the students’ journey by giving them a chance to move from building to building and around the campus as they progressed through the grades from pre-school to high school,” says Jeffery Smith, AIA, of Gromatzky Dupree and Associates. The design team, in association with world-renowned Israeli artist David Moss, developed an inward-facing campus plan that at the same time reached outward. Smith described Moss’ role as “our spiritual consultant,” whose wisdom and creativity helped the designers imagine the buildings in new ways—as craft, as pattern, as symbology, and as objects with religious resonance. The planning of the project started with the notion that faith is at the center of humanity, therefore the initial design parti placed the synagogue in the heart of the campus. From that fundamental idea, the campus master plan evolved into a nautilus configuration with buildings set along the spiral. The architect describes the concept as “centeredness, but looking outward” whereby students can see themselves as individuals but also as part of society. To achieve the objective of “looking outward,” the architect took available opportunities for interstitial outdoor spaces to act as “lenses” through which students might ponder their place in the world. According to the architect, such “lenses” correspond with the four core values the academy seeks to instill with its students—service, spiritual, fine arts, and community.

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Texas Architect Nov/Dec 2007: Sacred Space  

Texas Architect is the official publication of the Texas Society of Architects, each edition features recently completed projects and other...

Texas Architect Nov/Dec 2007: Sacred Space  

Texas Architect is the official publication of the Texas Society of Architects, each edition features recently completed projects and other...