MBB transformed a landmarked seven-story townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to serve as a learning center for the Park Avenue Synagogue community.

A full gut renovation of the 17,400 sf, 1912 Neo-Renaissance building realigns the floor levels and interior circulation for new uses. Large and small classrooms and meeting halls, a chapel, and a rooftop terrace and garden present highly flexible, multi-use spaces with oak wood detailing and oak cabinets for storage, as well as furniture sets of different scales. The building hosts morning, afternoon and evening classes, carefully choreographed to accommodate all ages and users.

From its spacious lobby, visitors pass through full-height glass and metal partitions to a central stairway flooded with daylight from a skylight above. Open and inviting, the circulation spine reinforces a sense of community and, with its installations at each mid-landing of stained-glass windows created for the synagogue in 1954 by artist Adolph Gottlieb, alludes to congregation’s rich history. Designed for easy navigation and to serve diverse users of all ages, the Learning Center is fully accessible.

Photos ©Frank Oudeman