Har-El Synagogue

West Vancouver B.C. ● Civic

The Har-El Synagogue consists of 20,000 SF of worship space, a youth and social hall, cultural display, seniors lounge, library and classrooms.

Located on an environmentally sensitive site alongside a second-growth forest, this landmark structure spans a salmon-spawning stream. The structural design of the Synagogue required a broad range of engineering solutions in order to create a building capable of satisfying the criteria of several stakeholders: the Har-El Synagogue Congregation, the City of West Vancouver, the Ministry of the Environment, Lands and Parks, and the Regional Fish and Wildlife Manager. A covenant was established to ensure the land was not disturbed and all plant and aquatic life remained in its natural state.

GlotmanSimpson was challenged to bring together a variety of materials, including cast-in-place and tilt-up concrete, masonry concrete block, heavy timber and a wood frame roof, along with both movable and fixed partitions. This was accomplished through careful detailing of all joints, providing visual gaps at exposed structure intersections. The high life masonry walls enclosing the worship space provide a heat sink to reduce heating and cooling requirements. However, their height and slenderness required bracing to provide adequate horizontal strength. Combining heavy internal reinforcing and embedded structural steel elements achieved this.