Holy Blossom Temple

“The design is as simple as it is brilliant. For communal Jewish space, there can be no building without a sense of community; and there can be no sense of community without bringing everyone together — physically, emotionally and spiritually. The design for Holy Blossom Temple does exactly this.”

Rabbi Emeritus, Holy Blossom Temple

The renewal of Holy Blossom Temple transforms a historic synagogue into a contemporary, integrated campus. Containing a House of Worship, a House of Learning, and a new House of Gathering, the campus is home to one of Toronto’s first Jewish congregations.

Designed in 1938 by Chapman and Oxley, Holy Blossom’s House of Worship was the first Canadian institution to employ modern use of board-formed concrete—a technique used for delivering sculptural forms. Monumental and earnest, it was built in Romanesque Revival style and featured an 1100-seat sanctuary. A modernist addition by John B. Parkin Associates, in 1960, offered an education wing—a House of Learning. However, this addition shifted the architectural centre of the original building, causing an unintended maze-like experience throughout.

Exploring the campus led to re-imagining—and transforming—its latent spaces. Positioned between the two historic buildings, a new light-filled atrium rises four floors, complete with a helical staircase and a vast skylight above. Here, architecture emerges by converting marginal into critical, defining a House of Gathering. This gesture—the third House—transforms the experience of the Temple, providing a place for celebratory and communal events akin to a living room. It also—physically and visually—connects the two existing buildings and the ancillary spaces, offering a comprehensive campus that is the Holy Blossom Temple today.

Moreover, major restoration activities were undertaken to reveal and celebrate the qualities of the original buildings. This renewal project, as a complete renovation, is targeting LEED Silver. An ode to the past, and looking to the future, the Holy Blossom Renewal commemorates the story of its congregation through architecture. It reveals the significance of history, juxtaposing it with a contemporary vision—one that celebrates community and continuity.

Client Holy Blossom Temple
Completion 2019

Photography Tom Arban

Awards See all project awards
2021 Cornerstone Award – National Trust for Canada
2020 OAA Award of Excellence Finalist
2020 BD+C Reconstruction Awards – Platinum
Team See full project team