In architecture, shape and materials are the tools of authenticity. Shapes can mirror the surrounding architecture or landscape, and materials echo the environment and even the building’s purpose. Wood is a frequent go-to material when buildings are asked to reflect sustainability as an important part of the building. Case in point is Field Architect’s wood-clad Bay area synagog Kol Emeth featured in Architectural Record (August 2022).
Architect Stan Field explains: Much of the project’s authenticity has to do with truth in materials—interpreted here in raw wood, steel, and stone. And the design is also genuine in its response to a difficult site, to the nature of its environment, and to its purpose as a spiritual center.
A bowed canopy made of wood slats drapes over the main sanctuary of the Kol Emeth Synagogue. Photo © Joe Fletcher
A lattice made from 2,200 pieces of salvaged timber runs along the west facade of the synagogue (1). The main sanctuary looks onto a courtyard and a social hall beyond that (2). Photos © Joe Fletcher
The lattice’s saved-from-landfill wood also serves as a symbol of the project’s sustainability. Kol Emeth is a LEED Platinum, net zero–energy building that uses no potable water for irrigation.
Field Architecture — Stan Field, Jess Field, design principals
Architect of Record:
Lea and Braze (civil); Mar Structural Design (structural); Fard Engineers (m/e/p)
Smith Hyder Construction
Loisos + Ubbelhode (lighting); Charles M. Salter Associates (acoustical); Green Building Services (LEED commissioning); GLS Landscape | Architecture (landscape); Spearhead (fabrication)
Congregation Kol Emeth
17,850 square feet aboveground; 41,500 square feet belowground parking