31 May 2010

Chamfered Extravaganza

Congregation Beth Elohim (synagogue) landmark district, NE cor.  Eighth Ave. and Garfield Place. 1908-1910.  Simon Eisendrath & B. Horowitz.  Temple House, 1928.  Mortimer Freehof & David Levy.   A domed Beaux Arts limestone extravaganza, its corner chamfered to receive the two resident Composite columns.
So says the AIA Guide to New York City, by Norval White and Elliot Willensky, the Classic Guide to New York's Architecture.  The words are brief.  Extravaganza has a bit of sting, no?

And then there's chamfered.  Chamfered!  (Def:  to dull, or cut off the edge of, say, a rectangular column.)

On one hand, being in Shul is good for cutting off the edges of life, right?  Focus on what matters, soften the hardness of this nutty urban existence.  On the other hand, Torah really should be sharpening our souls at all times, so the metaphor cuts both ways.

And as to the landmark question.  We're not landmarked, mind you, but in a landmark district.  It reminds me, somehow, of Richard Pryor--"This is no neighborhood--it's a residential district!"  Don't ask.  It sometimes summarizes how our neighbors feel about the busy-ness of our Shul.  Oh well.

1 comment:

Marco Siegel-Acevedo said...

Architectural critics can be a bit clunky with their language. It's like they still see every building as a freshly-glued balsa wood model, always ready for another swipe of the sander. I'd say the turreted school at 1st Street and PPW is extravagant. I think the CBE sanctuary is efficient. It packs a lot of grace into a Brooklyn corner.