USA: After 50 Years Modest Modernism of Binghamton, NY's Temple Concord Holds Up Well
by Samuel D. Gruber
Binghamton, New York's, Temple Concord sanctuary, built in 1964-65, is a fine example of modest modernism, combining expressive features of angled walls, a continuous strip style clerestory window and bright stained glass above the Ark, all the while retaining an elegant simplicity of material and form and an intimacy of scale. In the tradition of many of Percival Goodman's designs - which clearly influenced this building - sliding partitions provide expansion of the sanctuary an adjacent social hall. The Goodman-like expressive angles and the use of wood and beige brick at the Reform Temple Concord provide a dramatic contrast to Binghamton's contemporary Orthodox Beth David Synagogue, designed by Werner Seligmann.
The sanctuary wing was added in 1964 onto the 1898 Kilmer Mansion which the congregation bought in 1950 as their home, and which the congregation continues to occupy for much of its community activity. The mansion can also be rented for events.
The architects of the "new" wing were Benjamin Bloch and Walter Hesse, with the Herbert Shalat (d. 1999) as Associate Architect. The great modern stained-glass artist Jean-Jaques Duval, about whom I've written before in connection with his work in Connecticut, designed the stained glass which combines the traditional symbol of the menorah with bright colors and an abstract infill design. Except for the addition of ramps to the bimah, the sanctuary is little changed from its original design.