Percival Goodman’s design graces the state with one of its very best modern buildings, combining exceptional drama and elegance with considerable repose and dignity. Goodman considered this one of his best designs, and his judgment stands the test of time. The use of materials is superb, clear organization and deft composition dominate, and the rich decorative program amplifies each of the individual spaces. The recessed entry opens into an ample, well-lit lobby, also accessible from the parking lot in the rear (and, mercifully, not visible from the street). The lobby provides clear and easy access to the sanctuary, chapel, social hall, garden, and hallway to the two-story office and classroom wing at the west end of the complex. The sanctuary, with sweeping arched roof, is a tour de force; on the bimah at the eastern end is the ark, with Torah covers designed by Ina Golub, flanked by sculptures by Ibram Lassaw representing the Pillar of Fire and the Pillar of Cloud. On the sanctuary’s sides, the curtains, representing Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors, and partitions are easily moveable to accommodate up to 1,600 worshippers on High Holy Days. The chapel is a striking yet intimate space, with a fifteen-foot-diameter copper dome. Since the temple’s completion, the congregation has enhanced it further in creating and maintaining one of the city’s best urban landscapes, worth lingering a few minutes to contemplate.
– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture