Sukkah 2000 / 5760
Sukkah designs by prominent architects


Michael Gelick

BIOGRAPHY: Michael Gelick received a Bachelor in Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Architecture degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the President of Gelick Associates Inc. in Chicago, and since 1977, Mr. Gelick has been a Professor of Architecture at the University of Illinois. Mr. Gelick serves on the AIA, National Committee on Design; and sits on the Board of Directors of Architecture Magazine. Among his prominent projects are the Belgravia Terrace Townhouse Development in Chicago; and the Cityfront Place Mid- and Highrise Apartments in Chicago.

LOCATION: Gelick Associates, Chicago, Illinois.


STATEMENT: This Sukkah design is dedicated to Ezra Gordon, a good friend.

As the architect member of a Havura in Evanston, including six families, I have had the responsibility and pleasure of designing our first sukkah 20 years ago. It was an eight foot cube composed of pairs of 4 ft by 8 ft light wood lattice elements that were connected by hinges and hinge pins and triangulated with diagonal cables for some stability. Everyone in the Havura helped with the original constriction, annual assembly and/or annual decoration. Three years ago, we replaced our sukkah with a new version of the same modular lattice design. I remember many sukkahs as I grew up and was fascinated by the research, history, and religious aspects of "The Festival" and its central artifact.

This opportunity to readdress the sukkah is especially relevant today. Many of the issue of Sukkot, the "Feast of Tabernacles" or the "Feast of Ingathering," the celebration of the harvest, relate to local, regional, and global needs for food and shelter. The good feeling of accomplishing work and gathering together in a place to acknowledge a community effort, gives the season purpose.

The basic needs of humankind (food and shelter) together with education of the population, "the Book," which is dominant in Judaism, and health care, a right of all people, comprise the four basic rights and obligations in a present and future society. The idea of a society that is a hybrid mix of "free to soar" openness combined with a socialistic foundation to provide basic life supports, connotes an architecture that is "hybrid" as well.

The sukkah is a "Hybrid Prototype." It is a minimalist, modular, demountable, reconstructable, variable, ornamental, functional, and spiritual shelter. It should shake in the wind and sit lightly on the earth. It should be constructed of natural but renewable resources. The plan should not be square; the sukkah function is hierarchical. It relates to the family, a unit of strength and generational durability. Use of geometry is rational; the tepee, the yurt are round, so are some barns; many buildings are orthogonal, but the rectangle achieves hierarchy and personality. It's friendly and not so pure. A box barn raising and the resultant structure are poetic, as well as orderly and especially are a cooperative achievement. A rectangular box will work well. The floor and wall panels are modular. They are 40" by 80", one meter by two meters. They are the size of a door, a bed, or a table. They have flexibility of use and can be handled by one person. The two to one proportion is simple and direct. These modular panels form the basis of the design. The height should be sufficient "for the tall one." The roof should spring from the walls, with the arch above, like a rainbow, framing the stars in the sky and supporting the trellis work which, in turn, forms the contained space. The tradition is life oriented. Judaism is for the living, giving, making, moving and loving. Enjoy!
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