The firm Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership has been selected to design the Center for HOPE, a new, 46,000-square-foot center in Jerusalem for religious education, cultural sharing and prayer among members of different faith traditions.
Like a United Nations for the religious world, the planned Center for HOPE is conceived by its backers as a place where people of all religions have a welcoming home and a place to help “bring about world-changing peace and harmony,” according to The Elijah Interfaith Institute, the project's leader.
Support for the Center for HOPE has come from around the world from financial supporters as well as religious leaders including: the Dalai Lama; Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Austria; Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh of the U.K.; Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric, of Bosnia; Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks of the U.K.; and Mata Amritanandamayi Devi of India.
According to Lee H. Skolnick, FAIA, the Center for Hope will be located on Prophets Street near Jerusalem's Old City, designed with symbolic meaning that reflects its redolent location.
“HOPE stands for 'House of Prayer and Education,’ and the Center for HOPE experience is designed to unfold as a journey of peace and ascension,” says Skolnick. “It is designed to provide beautiful prayer spaces, museum elements, art exhibition spaces, a library, a hospitality center, and study and lecture rooms for resident scholars.”
The ribbonlike, sloping buildings curve around a verdant courtyard with reflecting pools, and feature green roofs and sustainable design elements. The mission of the new center, according to the Elijah Interfaith Institute, is as follows:
“Through prayer, education and cultural sharing, the Center of Hope seeks to bring about transformation in the lives of participants, increased understanding and appreciation between members of different faith traditions and a meaningful contribution to processes of peacemaking, community building and reconciliation between diverse faith communities in Jerusalem, thereby serving as a sign and model for religions and their possible relationships worldwide.”
The Elijah Interfaith Institute was founded in Jerusalem in 1996 by Rabbi Dr. Alon Goshen-Gottstein, and it is recognized as one of the leading global organizations advancing the cause of interfaith understanding.