Not So Mundane: Temple Beth Zion, Buffalo, NY

The striking Temple Beth Zion sits on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, nestled among large mansions and small commercial buildings. It was built in 1966-67 by Harrison and Abramovitz (featured previously on MCM here) and most well-known for their work on the United Nations. But this building is also a standout. The prominent stained glass window on the facade is by prominent artist Ben Shahn, who also designed additional stained glass, a Menorah and other interior decoration. The building incorporates much symbolism such as the ten scalloped sections that make up the exterior walls and represent the Ten Commandments.

There are other buildings on the site, some connected to the main sanctuary, although it is unclear if these were designed by the same architects at the same time.

Pictured above is the rear entrance off of the parking lot. The attached building is a standard low-rise institutional building in beige brick.

The Sisterhood Chapel sits off to one side on the campus and seems to be entered independently. It is also faced in beige brick and has a simple decorative screen for light on both sides of the building.

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1 Response to Not So Mundane: Temple Beth Zion, Buffalo, NY

  1. Susan Alexander says:

    What a treat to stumble upon your blog and find these photos of the synagogue back in Buffalo where I grew up, and where we celebrated both of my daughters’ bat mitzvahs. I am pretty familiar with the interior, where you are surrounded by those ten scalloped walls that were purposedly left with a rough surface to remind us of the unfinished job of creating peace. Ben Shahn’s incredible stained glass windows, mosaic menorahs, and more are also a huge highlight. As kids, when we drove past the building, we used the call it ‘the cupcake’ or ‘the drum on delaware’ … but it has stood the test of time and remains a stunning vision on a gorgeous avenue filled with architectural treasures. Thanks for featuring it! Susan (Barshter) Alexander, Olympia, Washington

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