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Boulder Jewish Community Center

RB+B Architects, Inc.

Posted: July 2, 2018 | Projects

The new Boulder Jewish Community Center has been planned for a decade. As the first building at the Boulder Jewish Commons in west Boulder, Colorado, it embodies the timeless quality for architecture in its development – using local natural materials, simple forms, and qualities of solidity, permanence, and integrity found in Jewish tradition. 

The entry courtyard, with its massive stone wall, brings together visitors and is protected for gatherings. The daycare and Early Childhood Center (ECC) fill one half of the building, while the other half houses a community hall, fitness center, Jewish library, and classrooms serving everyone from infants to seniors. 

The phrase “Everyone is Welcome” is emphasized throughout the design. The spirit of this message gave the design team freedom to look at the design as a positive reflection of all cultures. The approach was inspired by universal qualities of architecture that are evident in buildings from past to present, and by concepts representing many cultures.

The plan is organized around the main entry courtyard: 

  • The courtyard separates children/adult spaces and in-between space becomes shared space. 
  • The courtyard becomes the “center” of the facility. 
  • The opening to the courtyard defines the entrance.

The courtyard is anchored by a prominent stone wall, framing the main entry. The wall portrays height and verticality – balancing the otherwise horizontal massing.

Gathering space within the Early Childhood Center serves as an interior courtyard. Surrounded by classroom, kitchen, office, and support, it becomes the center of activities within the ECC. Similarly, in the adult wing, the community hall serves as an interior courtyard surrounded by office, stage, and support spaces on three of its sides. The west side captures spectacular views of the Flatirons rock formations.

The design explores the poetic aspects of natural light. The building is oriented with north/south windows. In the children’s gathering space, natural light enters through rooftop openings to illuminate play spaces. 

In the gymnasium, light is harnessed through clerestory windows bringing in soft light. The community hall is lit by large windows to the west and tubular skylights; the large overhang cuts down on glare while providing covered outdoor space. 

Main courtyard walls have openings creating circulation and lobby space inside. Light enters the second floor library through smaller punched windows, and the interior of the stone wall is brushed with soft “glowing” natural light from the skylights above.

The sequence of spaces—from the community hall on the west, moving through the main courtyard, and continuing through the Early Childhood Center to the east—works to function as a transparent corridor, symbolizing continuity extending beyond the building.

The JCC has doubled the number of people they serve since opening the new space – from 625 people per month to 1,250 people per month. The number of children served by the new ECC grew from 90 to 175, with summer day camp ranging from 150 to 300 campers.

Anecdotally, the JCC has facility renters who have stated that their numbers are also up; they often attribute increased attendance to the fact that attendees are excited to come to the new Boulder JCC.


Building Envelope: Summit Brick, Firestone Metal Panels
Roofing: Firestone TPO
Windows: Sierra Pacific, Kalwall
Entrances & Storefronts: Manko
Flooring: Lees, Mannington, Johnsonite, Karndean Crossville, Daltile
Interior: Marshfield, National Gypsum, Sherwin Williams, USG 
Lighting: Columbia, Pinnacle, Lumenart, Borden
Daylight/Skylights: Velux Sun Tunnel, Skyline Skylights
Elevators: Kone


RB+B Architects, Inc.
315 E. Mountain Avenue, #100
Fort Collins, CO 80524

Structural Engineer 
JVA, Inc.
1319 Spruce Street
Boulder, CO 80302

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer
Shaffer Baucom Engineering Consultants
3900 S. Wadsworth Avenue, #600
Lakewood, CO 80235

General Contractor
Calcon Constructors
2270 W. Bates Avenue
Englewood, CO 80110

Food Service
3PM Design
11801 E. 33rd Avenue, #C
Aurora, CO 80010

Geiler & Associates, LLC
12355 E. Cornell Avenue
Aurora, CO 80014

Location: Boulder, Colorado
Date Bid: Nov 2014
Construction Period: Jan 2015 to Jun 2016          
Total Square Feet: 52,444
Site: 9.77 acres.
Number of Buildings: One.
Building Sizes: First floor, 45,104; second floor, 7,340; total, 52,444 square feet.  
Building Height: First floor, 16′; second floor, 16′; total, 32′.  
Basic Construction Type: New.
Foundation: Pier & grade beam, reinforced concrete, slab-on-grade. 
Exterior Walls: Brick, curtain wall, stone, metal panel.
Roof: Membrane, metal. 
Floors: Concrete. 
Interior Walls: Metal stud drywall, stone.
KBTU/SF/yr: 47.8

View full project details in magazine issue July-August 2018.