Hillel at the University of Washington opened the Karen Mayers Gamoran Family Center for Jewish Life at a community-wide dedication event on Sunday, June 6, 2004.
According to the architects, Miller-Hull Partnership, LLP, the goal was to create a "home away from home" for Jewish students in the approximately 21,000-square-foot facility. Spaces for worship, dining, a student lounge, offices, a library, and study areas were included in the facility, which replaced an existing building. Special attention was paid to the proportion and scale of the building so that it fits with the historic buildings along the University of Washington's "Greek" row, but the building's ultimate expression is rooted in a modern aesthetic. An important element of the interior is the imported rough-hewn Jerusalem limestone wall that anchors the central light-filled atrium, which was both architecturally and historically inspired by the stone found throughout Israel.
"With the opening of the Karen Mayers Gamoran Center for Jewish Life, Hillel at the UW is entering a new era," said Rabbi Dan Bridge, Greenstein Family Executive Director of Hillel at the UW. "With the help of both young leaders and the stalwarts of this Seattle Jewish community, we have built a beautiful and very functional container to hold programs for what is most precious to us -- the students and young adults who will be the future of this community."
The project began five years ago with the planning for a dinner for then Hillel President and International Director Richard Joel and Hillel's International Chairman of the Board Edgar Bronfman Jr. Rabbi Bridge researched installing a dishwasher because it took students three days to wash the dishes after the event. Upon realizing there was no space in the previous facility, a process of exploring a new building began. Nearly four years and $12 million of fund-raising later, the building will officially be open for the 2004-2005 academic year.
Built by GLY construction, highlights of the building include:
"We are extremely excited about the possibilities a new building like this presents," said Stan Piha, project manager. "Five years of work by the entire community came together in this facility. It is an amazing structure architecturally, capturing the essence of Northwest style along with key symbols of Judaism. It will be a home not only for current students and community members, but a building for generations to come."
- The Stroum Gallery welcomes people into the building and will display artwork on rotation
- Cafe LeVine, serving espresso drinks, kosher sandwiches, pizza and desserts and designed to be open until late at night for students to relax, study, and hang out together.
- The Bridge Family Auditorium/Fulton Performance Hall, an extendable, multi-purpose gathering room that when fully opened fully will seat 400 for small meetings to community High Holiday services.
- As the only Hillel in the world with a clinical counselor, the Laurie Winston Crocker Counseling Office is completely confidential with a separate phone number and private entry.
- The Keller Fitness Center will be a free service to students and young adults offering classes, training, shower / locker room which will remain open the same hours the building is open.
Hillel at the University of Washington is committed to creatively empowering and engaging Jewish students at the University of Washington and in the greater-Seattle area. Hillel at the University of Washington is part of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life's network of over 500 regional centers, campus foundations and affiliates. Its long-standing dedication to building Jewish identity, while nurturing intellectual and spiritual growth in a pluralistic community, positions Hillel as a leader in building a stronger Jewish people and stronger Jewish future.