Exterior of Holy Blossom Temple, 2021 Heritage Toronto Award Build Heritage Nominee. Image: Tom Arban.
Atrium of Holy Blossom Temple, 2021 Heritage Toronto Award Build Heritage Nominee. Image: Tom Arban.
Holy Blossom Temple
Conservation and Renewal
This project transformed a historic synagogue into a contemporary, integrated campus which connects a House of Worship, a House of Learning, and a new House of Gathering. The renewal of Holy Blossom Temple architecturally adapts a historic synagogue into a contemporary, integrated campus. Home to Toronto’s first Jewish congregation, the design and the execution of this renewal project required sensitivity, understanding, and innovation.
Designed in 1938 by Chapman and Oxley, Holy Blossom’s House of Worship was the first Canadian institution to employ board-formed concrete. It was built in the Romanesque Revival style and featured an 1100-seat sanctuary. A modernist addition by John B. Parkin Associates, in 1960, offered a House of Learning, yet caused an unintended maze-like experience.
Framed by two different buildings, the renewal finds an architectural language which bridges the gap between the decorative and the austere. The integration of art was critical to develop an artistic thread in time and space from the 1938 Sanctuary to the new architecture. The concrete structure has been restored and revealed in the new atrium as well as in a glazed enclosure above the entrance—a vitrine-like feature that safeguards and showcases a portion of the 1938 concrete as a historical artifact. This glass box reorients the entry sequence, offering the former rear entry of the sanctuary as the new principal entrance.
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Holy Blossom Temple
Property Owner: Holy Blossom Temple
Heritage Architect: ERA Architects
Architect: Diamond Schmitt Architects
Structural Engineer: Blackwell
Mechanical Engineer: Smith + Andersen
Electrical Engineer: Mulvey+Banani International Inc.