About a decade ago (1998), it became apparent that our then current building desperately needed a facelift and significant repair. So, in 2000, the JRC Board created the Building Task Force to evaluate the situation and recommend a course of action. This task force determined it was not worthwhile to invest 1.5 million dollars to remodel our old building, and recommended exploring the possibility of relocating or rebuilding.
A feasibility study determined that we could expect to raise 4 million dollars for this endeavor, and a Capital Campaign committee was formed to begin to raise money for an as-yet unknown future project. Rabbi Brant and Hallie were the first congregants to make a financial commitment to this project.
An in-depth investigation of available sites and buildings for relocation in and around Evanston led the Building Task Force to further conclude that a more appropriate solution would be to tear down our existing building and rebuild on the same site.
A community-wide survey helped us to understand our members wishes and dreams for both a physical structure and the important on-going life within it. Conversations about sustainable building began community-wide by the Environmental Concerns Task Force, and extensively at the board level as well. Architects were interviewed and we hired our top choice. Focus groups and interviews with all JRC committees, JRC staff and other interested parties provided input for assessing our particular needs for a potential new building. A Jewish values-based decision making model was used through which the JRC Board voted unanimously to build our new facility at the highest feasible level of LEED certification for green architecture.
Proposals, changes, compromises, more proposals, more changes and more compromises ensued to produce a working plan. We interviewed contractors and solicited bids. We realized that we were over-budget, so the RP committee was formed to recommend how to balance the total cost of the project with our financial resources. We made cuts, raised more money, and made more cuts. We secured a bank to loan us money. A contractor was selected and we entered into final negotiations over price. A total project cost of 10 million dollars was budgeted.
A transition team was formed to handle the logistics of securing temporary quarters. They assessed our space requirements, found facilities to fill our interim needs, negotiated leases, and physically moved and set up our operations in three separate locations.
In October, 2006, we broke ground. As we watched our new structure take form, we continued to raise money and evaluate our LEED status. We handled over 130 change requests, worried, lost sleep at night, stayed in budget, and struggled to open on time. When our building neared completion, our transition team came into action again. planning, preparing and physically moving us into our new home.
May our home be one that, in the words of a very wise member of our current Board, comforts those in distress, helps those in need, celebrates together in times of joy, welcomes visitors, provides a refuge from chaos, informs the mind, nourishes the soul, and promotes shalom. (Adapted from Board President David Pinzur's speech at JRC on our opening day, Feb 10, 2008)
Visit Rabbi Rosen's blog, Shalom Rav, to read about our congregation's commitment to and process of creating a sustainable shul. In particular take a look at the sections in his blog on Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy, Environmentalism, Green Buidings, and JRC Construction Diaries.