The American Institute of Architects honored a student-built Sukkah at Wesleyan University with a 2009 "Faith and Form" Award for art and architecture.
The Sukkah is an airy, five-mound curving structure of carbon-steel clad in bamboo. Designed by 15 students enrolled in an architecture class, the WesSukkah provides a sacred space that adheres to a complex, medieval Rabbinic building code.
"The students have crafted something which is both compelling and meaningful for the campus," explains the instructor, Elijah Huge, assistant professor of art.
The students designed WesSukkah with 1,600 culms of bamboo, 46 high carbon steel pipes, six steel rods, five spools of monofilament test line and steel rebar. The structure will be dedicated Oct. 3 on Wesleyan's Foss Hill.
Initially, the project clients, a committee of Jewish leaders, chaired by Wesleyan Rabbi David Leipziger-Teva, requested the new sukkah be easy to assemble and disassemble, adhere to traditional and contemporary Jewish values, and provide an intentional sacred space while also being inviting to the community at large.
According to Rabbinical code, the sukkah cannot be located under trees, stars must be visible from the sechach or roof and the sechach must be made of material that is cut from the earth.
After a broad study of Talmudic law and numerous design specifications, the students created a sukkah that appeased the clients.
"WesSukkah needed to find balance between serving members of our diverse Jewish community as well as encouraging people unfamiliar with the holiday to investigate the activity within," Leipziger Teva says.