New School News

A Little Place Upstate: Rhinebeck Jewish Center gets modern green makeover from Parsons grad

Photo by Yeshaya Shor.

This year, a Parsons graduate is helping the upstate New York city of Rhinebeck get a beautiful, environmentally responsible new center for Jewish study and social life.

The alumnus, Yeshaya Shor (BFA Architectural Design ’12), began his work on the project while still here at Parsons, in the form of an independent study project under the direction of professor Peter Wheelwright.

Shor is childhood friends with Rhinebeck Rabbi Chanoch Hecht, who was interested in expanding the existing Jewish Center. His only directive? Pay homage to the local character.

“When I visited Rheinbeck,” Shor told the News,  “I saw barns on all the properties in the village, and I thought that it would nice to not contradict it, but accept it – maybe blend it back into it’s natural settings.” Shor, along with architect David Borenstein, engineer Richard Chazen, and a handful of other recent Parsons graduates and designers, including lighting design consultant Natalia Priwin (MFA Lighting Design, ’12), and product designer Yoav Menachem (BFA Product Design student), set about producing a design that fits perfectly in its setting as well as reflects the ideals of sustainable design. “We’re retaining the memory, but switching it,” said Shor. “Instead of housing horses and equipment, it’s housing people in social settings.”

Set on leafy grounds in the four-hundred-year-old village, the center will be constructed with some of the same wood that made up a barn that had stood nearby for a century. The building is also full of energy-saving features, as described by Inhabitat:

Overhanging eaves shade direct sunlight in summer, while radiant flooring heats in winter. Window are placed for optimal ventilation and decorative stained glass on the Eastern façade representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel adds a decorative touch. A highly insulated thermal envelope keeps temperatures comfortable inside year round.

The project is Shor’s first building, and has been consuming his time since graduation. Groundbreaking will happen later this spring.


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