The Proposed "New Campus" on Oak Street
Shared community spaces encourage and facilitate relationships and social connections within a community. University campuses are a prime example of community space that is utilized for social, cultural, educational and business events and daily activities. With this in mind, redevelopment plans for Congregation Beth Israel and Vancouver Talmud Torah Elementary School are being approached from a drastically different perspective than we have seen in the past. The next project in the Jewish community that will be undertaken by Acton Ostry Architects (the same firm that designed King David High School and Diamond Foundation Centre for Jewish Campus Life) is the development of a new mixed-use "campus" along Oak Street between 26th and 28th Avenues that will be home to Congregation Beth Israel and Vancouver Talmud Torah elementary school. The proposed new design incorporates a shared community courtyard, underground parking structure and a new community office in addition to the renovations and additions that both of the individual buildings will see. The concept for this redevelopment will increase the practicality and accessibility of both the school and the synagogue and incorporate shared open courtyards between buildings in order to create a multipurpose community space that will become a central home for educational, spiritual and social aspects of the Jewish community. Congregation Beth Israel Congregation Beth Israel is nearing the end of a capital campaign that began in 2009 to raise funds for the planned redevelopment. The current building at 4350 Oak Street was originally built in 1948 and has been the home to Beth Israel congregation, USY, Kadima and Bar/Bat Mitzvah programs since that time. Already considered an anchor Jewish landmark on Oak Street, the update of the building will create a more functional and accessible space for the synagogue while preserving the oldest section as a historical BC building - a great example of the heritage conservation projects that are becoming increasingly popular in the City of Vancouver. Vancouver Talmud Torah Elementary School Vancouver Talmud Torah Elementary School was originally built in 1948 and was the first Jewish day school to have its own building in Vancouver. The preservation of a heritage building within the plans for the new school structure provides a physical symbol of the importance of remembrance and history in education and learning. The new school building will expand the available space for student enrollment and allow for continued growth of the school. Being able to provide a Jewish education to all the BC children who seek one is important to parents and staff of Talmud Torah alike.