The Congregation of Temple Shalom of Northwest Arkansas had met in an old house for many years. The place was not without its own drafty charm, but it was less accommodating than ideal. A member of the congregation, Miriam Ella Alford bequeathed a large gift to the Temple to help fund a new building. Following an attempt to purchase and convert a local house to the new Temple, Parkco was asked to interview for the project. We were thrilled to accept the invitation. Our approach emphasized process. We refused to bring preconceptions about the design to the interview. Instead, we insisted that the best design would result from interaction with the congregation and its design committee. We discussed zoning issues, parking requirements, neighborhood compatibility, drainage, total floor area, and wild guesses about cost. But we would not budge on design talk. The design could only be determined through a collaborative design process. We were hired. We couldn't believe it! For the next two years, we worked to design and build a Temple. It would be a place of worship, celebration, education, community, and peace. This would be the first purpose-built Jewish Temple in Northwest Arkansas.
This project came with a very special partner. Fadil Bayyari, a local General Contractor of Palestinian origin, and a Muslim, had offered to build the project and waive his fee. The documentary by Hayot Tuychiev tells the story beautifully. The mild-mannered architects even have a cameo! To say the least, this is a meaningful project whose significance reaches far beyond Fayetteville. We are grateful and feel honored to have played a part.
- Stone was quarried in Prairie Grove, Arkansas.
- The facility serves the Temple Congregation and the UofA Hillel House.
- The Architects learned a boatload about Judaism through this experience.
- Rainwater detention is accommodated beneath the sidewalk.
- The building was designed to have an appropriate scale in the neighborhood.
- A peacock visited the site daily during construction and for years after.
- The program includes sanctuary, community room, Hillel House, kitchen, admin space, Rabbi's quarters, library, hearth room, classrooms, and art room.
- Transparent corner windows in the sanctuary help connect the space to nature.
- The sanctuary faces east, as tradition suggests.
- Learn more about Temple Shalom and its history via these links.
Life, learning and community