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Starting with the synagogue and proceeding outward along its spiraling spine, the architect placed the pre-school building near the heart of the campus to signify the importance of the youngest student’s relationship to the Akiba Yavneh and the Jewish community as a whole. The building’s plan is a direct translation of this concept, with all the classrooms connecting to a central communal space. Throughout the campus, intimate classroom spaces link to large activity areas. In the lower school (K-5) building, the plan was driven by the desire to instill a commitment to life-long learning. The plan was crafted from a single spine that splits to form a V-shaped space, thus allowing areas for faculty, learning, and resources to become the central focus. At one end of the building are the kindergarten classrooms where the scale is more intimate and texture is softer. At the other end where the upper grades are located, the building opens up to a more adult-size scale and the ceiling flies upward to give the space a greater openness. Increased sunlight at this end also denotes greater intellectual challenge. Next along the unfurling campus plan, the middle school building represents the place where members of the Akiba Yavneh community encounter the most critical point in their journey toward self-awareness. The building’s circular plan allows for a central spiritual-communal space that students can claim as their own, a place where social, educational, and religious activities can coexist. All classrooms are arranged around the communal space to illustrate the intertwining social, religious, and learning activities. The administration and athletic buildings, with facades deliberately rotated to align with Jerusalem, create a grand arcade where, in the words of the benefactors, “you see where you came from and where you are going.” The complex, appropriately situated between the middle school and the high school, houses the academy’s cafeteria, its music and art labs, and its gymnasium—the place where both bodies and minds are nourished. The high school building responds to the students’ growing need for independence by offering multiple entrances and different sizes of classrooms, as well as a series of connecting spaces that allow for both interaction and introspection. Situated at the main entrance of the campus, the building symbolizes the end of one journey and the start of another. The amphitheater and the man-made “creek” provide outdoor settings conducive to individual reflection upon one’s place in the universe. However, no one can lose sight of the surrounding campus buildings, the cityscape, and the heavens above. Plantings represent a blend of flora native to either Texas or Israel. Within this peaceful greenspace sits the synagogue. The philosophical construct of the Akiba Yavneh Academy campus is rich and full with juxtapositions, and the architecture is not only appropriate but also serves as a neutral canvas for the sacred lessons being taught. Nestor Infanzón, FAIA, practices with HOK in Dallas and is a TA contrubuting editor.

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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...