Jersey City, NJ
Traditionally, mosques have been designed as free-standing structures. The Al-Tawheed Islamic Center is located on an infill urban lot which fundamentally constrains orientation, circulation, access to light and air, and façade design. The new mosque is also restricted to the lot’s existing orientation which impacted our approach to the design. Internally, this required a rotation of the main prayer space toward the North-Eastern corner of the lot. The rotation is signified in the second floor and mezzanine prayer spaces by graphic prayer space markings on the carpet. The building’s gridded layout combines with the play of light and shadow from the patterned window screens creating a play between grid and curvilinear lines. The infill lot also constrains all circulation to the Westside Avenue façade of the building. This called for the entrance to the mosque to be the main start and end point of the building’s circulatory system. The circulation is achieved through a recessed entry under cantilevering upper floors creating a large gathering area along the front of the building. The patterned screen of the soffit lit from behind throws soft forms on the granite steps adding texture and atmosphere to the entrance. The first floor contains the mosque’s amenity spaces and offices as well as a multi-purpose space used for daily gatherings and celebratory occasions. The upper floors are the main prayer spaces in the mosque. Within the main prayer hall, we employ minimal ornamentation and indirect natural light from skylights to emphasize the spatial experience. The round skylights highlight the Imam’s (leader of prayer) podium on Friday at the major congregational prayer. The exterior will be clad in stone, with CNC-cut grooves and reveals. Bronze metal panels outline the window assemblies. Operable windows are covered in decorative patterns, a classic design element in mosque architecture. This project has received approval by the Jersey City Planning Department and is under construction.