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Hebrew Academy Gymnasium Plan Receives Rave Reviews From City of Miami Beach Design Review Board

The Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy is pleased to announce that its proposed gymnasium plans recently passed the City of Miami Beach Design Review Board (DRB) hearing bringing the building of a gymnasium on its Miami Beach campus one step closer to fruition. Providing a floor and site plan that is both mindful of, and sensitive to, the original architecture of the campus, renowned local architect Kobi Karp wowed the DRB with his ability to create a massive structure that manages to blend into the prestigious nature of the surrounding neighborhood. Mr. Karp's magnificent design, which honors the legendary Morris Lapidus through the utilization and continuation of the line, color and texture of the existing school buildings, spoke for itself. That said, over 150 students, Board and faculty members and school administrators, and donors were on hand to share their perspectives about the addition of a gymnasium to this historic institution. As if that were not enough, neighborhood residents, unaffiliated with the Hebrew Academy, also spoke out in support of the project citing the need to provide safe venues and activities for the growing younger demographic on the Beach and potential parking and flow of traffic improvements as additional benefits for the community at-large in addition to the enhancement of the campus.

The DRB noted that the existing building design of the main campus is Post War Modern architecture of the main campus building, constructed in 1961 and designed by the prominent late architect Morris Lapidus. Incidentally, Kobi Karp collaborated with Mr. Lapidus in prior years on various projects. The rough texture and horizontal pattern of the proposed poured concrete, surrounding the base of the building; creates a tactile and visual interest, which is well suited to the proposed gymnasium use. When combined with lucid glass at the primary southeast corner and the scored painted stucco, the building is framed with a projecting band, and thus a very hi-tech and sophisticated statement results. The facility will contain collapsible bleachers and energy efficient natural lighting boasting a translucent “kalwall” system which the DRB wholeheartedly embraced.

Student participants at the DRB hearing were able to watch the Miami Beach City Government in action during this experiential field trip. While waiting for Mr. Karp and the Hebrew Academy to present the gymnasium design, students were able to watch other groups present their designs to the DRB. Witnessing firsthand how careful the DRB is in granting, or denying, architectural improvements on Miami Beach, students saw the democratic process at work and learned quickly that all voices are given a chance to be heard and if one prepares well, and is diligent in their efforts, success will follow.

As the Hebrew Academy moves on to the next phase in the construction process, the school is thankful that a dream is finally becoming a reality through the generosity of donors. Hebrew Academy Development and Alumni Relations Director, and Hebrew Academy alumnae, Robyn Malek, shares, "I am so inspired by the donors that have stepped forward to fulfill a longtime dream of the Hebrew Academy. It is a privilege to be surrounded by people that believe in the vision and sustainability of the school."

Currently, the Hebrew Academy Athletic Department must rent off-site facilities to host home games for its successful volleyball and basketball programs. A school gymnasium will not only cut that cost but will also generate revenue through ticket sales and rental of the facility to outside organizations. The planning phase and building of a gym is both an exciting and huge undertaking. Nonetheless, buzz around the Hebrew Academy campus is infectious, especially amongst the students. Hebrew Academy junior and student athlete, Bari Gordon, enthuses, "I think having a gym right on our campus will build school spirit, increase sports participation, improve game attendance, and make home games feel more like home with our own Warrior mascot on the floor.”

If you are interested in gymnasium sponsorship opportunities please contact rmalek@rasg.org

The Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy serves students from six weeks of age through Grade 12 and inspires and equips students to achieve their greatest potential both academically and spiritually by focusing on their individual attributes and instilling eternal Torah values in a changing world.

Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design is a vertically-integrated and award winning design firm specializing in architecture, planning and interior design. The company’s portfolio includes luxury hi-rise mixed-use developments, world-class hospitality and entertainment centers, high-end commercial and retail spaces. Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design is internationally recognized for projects in the United States, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Romania, Russia, the Caribbean, Asia, and Mexico.

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