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“It’s very important for many of these institutions to still be open and allow passerby to come in,” said Esther Sperber, founder of Studio ST Architects. Her firm designed Kesher Synagogue in suburban New Jersey, as well as renovations for a Manhattan Jewish community center, the 14th Street Y. While working on the 14th Street Y, she said, 'they had a very similar debate between openness and the need for security.'" View original article Read More

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"Many of these buildings are quite hierarchical — an elevated front podium, an imposing ark and very high ceilings, and people sit in rows,” Sperber said. “Many synagogues that I know are moving toward an understanding of prayer as a much more egalitarian, communal, shared experience. With some of these buildings, it is a struggle to mitigate between the architecture of the structure and the structure of community as it’s evolving. That’s where the design challenge is.” View original article Read More

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"I had always envisioned Richard Meier to be like his signature white buildings: dignified and stately. And then came the March 13 New York Times story detailing allegations of his sexual harassment and abuse of five women. The #MeToo movement has exposed a widespread pattern of sexual misconduct by powerful men in the arts. Are these so-called “creative geniuses” simply taking advantage of their power and success, or is there a correlation between creativity and abuse? View original article Read More

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"This week Ken, Donna and I are joined by architect and writer Esther Sperber to discuss the very real and serious issue of mental health in architecture. Esther owns Studio ST Architects, a small practice in New York City, and frequently writes about mental health, with a specific focus on psychoanalysis and it’s relationship to architecture. View original article Read More

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The English language has two distinct words that refer to the place of dwelling: “home” and “house”. The term “house” identifies a physical structure that enables domestic activities, but a home is also a mental state characterized by a sense of belonging, protection, love and shelter. A home is a place located between the physical reality and a conceptual idea, between past memories and future aspirations. Home straddles the threshold separating private intimacy and the public world of buildings and culture.” View original article Read More

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“Levitt has a rare ability to integrate insights from the fields of architecture and psychology, revealing the internal processes that enable creative design. Using beautifully narrated vignettes drawn from his teaching and design practice, Listening to Design describes techniques for overcoming creative impasses and finding your own inner passion. It also provides valuable insights for art, design, and architecture educators as well as therapists working with creative clients.”

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It was a pleasure to speak to Professor Paul Glassman's architecture students at Yeshiva University about designing synagogues. The class was engaged and enthusiastic and I hope that I was able to express why I find architecture to be bother fun and meaningful.

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"What Freud called melancholia today we call depression, or in the words of Daphne Merkin, “being someone who is… pickled in the brine of self-hatred.” Merkin’s new memoir, This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression, is a project of remembering, repeating and working through a life-long struggle with the dark pull of depression and suicide wishes. For Merkin, depression is a chronic condition from which she is never completely free, but with the help of a hefty combination of medication and therapy she can be “this close to happy,” living a life centered on the love of writing, friendships... Read More

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"As an architect, I love the way architectural terms quietly sneak into everyday language. Perhaps because dwelling and shelter are among the most primal of human needs, buildings have come to symbolize all structures, both physical, mental and social. And I was troubled by Ivanka’s limited understanding of architecture and its complexities." View Original Article View original article Read More

"…But while we celebrate the prize committee’s new appreciation for joint creativity, they have yet again failed to acknowledge that did not arrive at this insight on their own. Not only have they continued to refuse to recognize Denise Scott Brown as a recipient of the prize awarded to Robert Venturi, they also deny her the credit she deserves for championing the idea of “joint creativity”, yet again, erasing her profound contribution to the field of architecture." read more Read More

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"The old should be renewed and the new should be sanctified" wrote R' Kook. This has been our mission in the design of the renovation of the 100 year old West Side Jewish center Synagogue. We aspire to renew the beautiful old details of this communal building and to sanctify the new system which would be installed including elevators, bathrooms and mechanical systems.

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What is a home? Is it a place or an idea? Is our home the destination we yearn for on a long journey, or the childhood origin from which we travel? The home structures the way that we live and is structured by the cultural norms around us. And yet as these homes we inhabit create the necessary environment for dwelling and for Bachelard’s "daydreaming," they also inhibit other forms of domesticity. It is only in the estrangement that is created by art, the shock of the uncanny, and the awareness of our embodied reaction to our dwellings, that we... Read More