Harriman helps the Jewish Community Alliance find a new home in Portland

by Mark Lee


Oct 18, 2017.

With a mission to build Jewish community locally, in Israel and throughout the world, the Jewish Community Alliance (JCA) is a non-profit organization formed by the merger of three organizations: the Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Federation of Portland, and Jewish Family Services. Serving the Jewish community of Southern Maine, JCA develops, provides and supports diverse programs, education, and services.

The current JCA building at 57 Ashmont St. in Portland, Maine was purchased in 1985 as a temporary center and, after 30 years, is woefully inadequate for current programs and expanding participation. In December 2014 the JCA purchased the St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church at 1342 Congress St. from the Archdiocese of Portland, and demolition began in November 2015 to clear the land to make way for the new JCA campus. The churchstone along with several buckets of rubble have been put aside for church members to claim as mementos. Also, a time capsule was discovered and given to the church.

A groundbreaking on the Alfred Osher JCA campus will be held Friday, June 10. Designed by Harriman, the 19,000 s/f Morris A. and Bertha Levine Portland Jewish Community Center will be home to an accredited five-classroom pre-school, after-school enrichment program, community meeting rooms, a multi-purpose assembly hall, library, kitchen, food pantry and administrative offices.

“Our new complex will enhance our ability to serve people in our region as the connecting hub of Jewish life in Southern Maine,” said Daniel Pearl, co-chair of the JCA Building Committee. “We have been very pleased with the support provided by Harriman during the planning process. Every time something comes up we know they will do everything they can to find a solution.”

This is the second time Harriman has designed a community center in compliance with the Maine Advanced Buildings Program; the first was on Presque Island. Administered by the Efficiency Trust, the Maine Advanced Buildings Program for new commercial construction projects offers comprehensive strategies to help Maine property owners, developers, architects and engineers design new buildings that will achieve significant energy savings.  New buildings designed and constructed according to the Maine Advanced Buildings Program requirements will be 30 – 35% more energy-efficient than the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code requirement.  The Maine Advanced Buildings Program offers a prescriptive cash incentive per square foot for new commercial buildings that are designed and constructed to meet these standards.

The community center building is situated on the compact 2.2 acre site to maximize solar efficiencies, and maintain abutters’ privacy, as well as to accommodate 50 parking spaces and outdoor event and recreation space. Harriman designed a natural play area directly outside the pre-school classrooms.

High performance building systems are designed to exceed enhanced energy benchmarks, increase occupancy comfort and control, and reduce life cycle cost impacts. Improvements include LED lighting with daylight and occupancy controls, high efficiency natural gas heat generation, low water use plumbing fixtures, high performance building envelope, and durable, easily maintainable materials.

Harriman will work closely with the construction manager, Ledgewood Construction, during the 15 month construction process for the Jewish Community Center.

Mark Lee, AIA, LEED AP, is a principal at Harriman, Portland, ME.