The Church Now Looks Like a Church

By JOAN ALTABE
Architecture writer
Sarasota Herald Tribune
June 9, 1991

inbar-architect-church2Kensington Park Baptist didn t look like a church until Sarasota architect Yehuda Inbar made it over. Until recently, the house of worship, located on 17th Street next to a shopping center, was concealed by a storefront-type entry with the customary aluminum door and flat roof.

Enter Inbar, who heightened the roof, designed a 20-foot-high vaulted ceiling, and added a columned portico at the entryway.

“I felt there wasn t anything warm or inviting about the building,” he said. “It s on 17th Street with tremendous traffic flow. You need to make a transition to a more quiet space. You can t just have a door.” The architect also added landscaping to further separate the building from the street. Providing a transition between street and structture is an Inbar trademark. His design for a B nai Torah congregation building, as yet unbuilt, projects 35-foot-high, 6-foot-wide stone walls. “The tall walls make a strong transition from the outside world,” he said. “They help change the mood of everyday life into one of quiet.”

Accordingly, the architect designed the Kensington Park church portico as a passageway from one world to another: as he says, “a place for people to congregate and have a little time and space to be before they open the door.” Once inside, a new foyer, separating the entry from the sanctuary, welcomes congregants.

An active ingredient in the transition from everyday life in the church is a tall window in the foyer, which admits light that also shines into the sanctuary. The height of the window, which reaches the 20-foot ceiling, “helps free the spirit,” says Inbar.