Congregation Beth El

Multi-phase renovation and expansion of an existing synagogue in Bethesda, MD

SizeScheduleArchitectSubstantial Completion
58,000 SF18 monthsLevin-BrownFall 2007

The functional space of this existing synagogue building was more than doubled with the addition of a three-story, 31,000-square-foot element to an existing 27,000-square-foot building. The project was constructed in three phases which included the installation of a massive underground stormwater retention system to meet new County codes along with complete renovation of the existing building. Work on the project included the acquisition of adjacent property and the creation of a new record lot for the expanded building.

The Challenge

There were two main goals for this addition and renovation project. First, more classroom, worship, and program areas were necessary but the building was bursting at the seams trying to accommodate the needs of almost 1,000 families and needed to be fully operational during the construction period. In addition, the construction work needed to be timed to meet the required functions dictated by the religious and school calendars. Second, something needed to be done about the entrance to the site from Old Georgetown Road. That area was the site of numerous traffic accidents as vehicles entered and exited the parking lot.

The Solution

“Our first priority is safety of our congregants. Entering and exiting the parking lot onto Old Georgetown road was incredibly dangerous and a constant source of traffic accidents. We had the option of acquiring two additional properties but could not figure out how to use them to solve this problem. Blake Real Estate showed us how we could reconfigure the parking lot to create a standard four way intersection and add a traffic signal at our entrance using only one of the properties, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in acquisition costs. They worked with the State Highway Administration (Old Georgetown Road is a State highway) to approve the proposed new road alignment and construction of a new traffic signal, then went out and had it designed and installed on our behalf for the amount they originally budgeted. As this process was underway Blake carefully helped us plan the details of the addition and renovation so the building could remain open and operating throughout the construction. They worked with the County code officials to phase the inspections and ensure occupied portions of the site were safe and code compliant at all times. Each of the three phases was completed as scheduled.”

– Sheila Bellack, Executive Director, Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County