Temple Israel is a Reform synagogue located on a 14-acre parcel in Omaha, NE. The Sanctuary, which seats 900, expresses itself to the exterior via luminous material in the upper portion of the room that glows like a beacon in the park. The building also features a Community Court, a 125-seat Chapel, a large Social Hall, and a range of other public and support spaces. Acentech worked to design the acoustics and noise and vibration control for the building.

The Temple Israel community has a strong music program; the Sanctuary was designed to support not only speech, but also music: the cantor, a choir, and congregational singing were all important considerations in the acoustical design. With the large areas of glazing in the upper volume, the ceiling became a critical acoustical design element: just over half of the ceiling has a sound-absorbing finish, while the balance is hard and acoustically reflective, improving congregational singing and chanting by supporting each worshiper’s ability to hear his or her voice in the context of the whole congregation. Acentech created a 3-D computer model of the space, which was used both to refine the extent and location of sound-reflecting and sound-absorbing surfaces and by local sound system designers to confirm suitable intelligibility of amplified speech.

Consultants at Acentech worked closely with the design team to control and predict mechanical noise, particularly associated with airflow noise in large underground ducts that serve the Sanctuary. This included a simulation of noise levels for leadership of the Congregation in Omaha, given various design alternatives and heat-load conditions, which helped the team to refine the noise criteria for the space.

Acentech also advised the team on acoustical treatments to the nearly circular Chapel, in the Social Hall to control the build-up of activity noise, and in the Cantor’s Office where a high degree of sound isolation was an important design objective.

The synagogue is part of a larger whole, with an Episcopal Church, Islamic Center, and a Tri-Faith center to be built on adjacent parcels as part of a Tri-Faith Initiative – the first of its kind in the United States.

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