Torah Community Builds School

Below are excerpts from an article written Monica Schultes. We have included a link to the original story.

Touro College

Naugatuck, CT – Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim, a Waterbury-based Jewish community, is building Yesodei Hatorah High School, an all-boys private Jewish high school, and other support facilities on a 56-acre parcel in Naugatuc.

The plans include two dormitories, a gymnasium, kosher market, and 86 housing units that will be a combination of townhouses and single-family homes.

Developed by Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim, the campus is a first-of-its-kind community in Naugatuck and will include a Mesivta High School and Kollel building and apartments for kollel (married students) and their families.

The Jewish school or seminary (Yeshiva or Mesivta) where unmarried students intensively study Torah is part of the Institute for Advanced Talmudic Studies and the Touro College System based in New York City.

Peter L. Amara, AIA, NCARB, principal, Amara Associates, LLC, recalled that their firm had been brought on board for preliminary design sketches to get the school project through zoning board approvals and the permit process.

Ultimately, Amara Associates prepared the design and construction drawings and worked with Robert Jacobs, the owner’s representative, to reach their aesthetic goals. “Now that the school is finished, we are designing the other buildings as part of the overall master plan,” says Amara.

The project was broken into several phases, starting with the construction of the school and the dorms, according to Amara. Architectural insulated load-bearing precast concrete panels enclose the single story school that was designed for a future second-floor expansion.

“One of the main reasons for the selection of precast concrete was the strength and durability,” recalls Amara. “Speed of construction was another key factor,” he adds. “There were other less expensive solutions that could be considered, but you would not get the same quality and longevity. It was a balancing act, and I think we made the right choice.”

In addition to the architectural precast wall panels, the project utilized other structural precast components such as stairs, landings, slabs, interior shear walls, exterior shear walls, column covers, columns, beams, hollow core plank floor, and roof deck. Different program requirements utilized precast panels — not just in classrooms. Most of the structure was precast, except for the synagogue, which utilized a steel frame with metal stud backup.

To provide adequate clear, column-free space at the main entrance, a DELTABEAM was designed.

The DELTABEAM allows for a flush-beam solution, which is ideal for a condition where the ceiling height is low. The precast floor system was also selected for the purposes of a future second floor. The school has plans to add an upper level, and the hollowcore roof is designed to handle the structural loads and serve as floor system.

The finish was an exposed aggregate (several levels of sandblast); thin brick, raised sections on the precast enclose the classrooms. The recessed Hebrew letters cast into the precast concrete wall panels are the finishing touch on this distinctive learning environment.

Precast flexibility gave Coreslab the wherewithal to adapt quickly to changes as they developed during the shop drawing phase. They pushed the precast envelope to include finishes on the inside of the panels as well as the outside.

The design-assist process allowed the owner’s rep to understand changes to scope and related costs in real time. This eliminated scope creep and reduced cost with the collaboration.

In addition to the aesthetics and finish considerations early on, the design team examined whether the panels would be load-bearing, which type of connections were best suited, and how to transfer the loads from precast to precast and precast to steel in certain areas.

Some of the interior faces of the panels have recesses for bulletin boards. The insulated wall panels also provide a resilient learning environment with limited maintenance required.

The project link is

In addition to Hebrew lettering, three colors, textures, and finishes can be seen on the precast façade. Thin brick tiles were inset that were offset with smooth finish as well as exposed aggregate.