July 19, 2021
Coming in at no. 99 is the 80,000-square-foot, three-story Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center, located at 3033 West Touhy in Chicago. This project, which was completed for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, provided space for a wide variety of Jewish community programs.
The first level featured a lobby, offices, an auditorium, a large meeting room, and a kitchen. The second floor included an art studio, nursery school rooms, health club, and lounges. And, on the third level, Epstein designed a gymnasium, swimming pool, handball courts, locker rooms, and snack bar. An interesting side note about the Horwich Center was that it was the first Jewish Community Center to serve older adults and included a space dedicated to seniors called the Mayer Kaplan Senior Adult Center.
In addition, located on the same lot as the Bernard Horwich Center, Epstein designed the Virginia Frank Childhood Development Center. This facility, which shared common walls and utilities (boiler and water supply) with the Horwich Center, was planned and designed as a separate entity to provide social services for pre-school children with emotional issues, similar to what we now classify as autism.
The Virginia Frank School featured a plan that utilized a central core, containing observational rooms with one-way glass, a kitchen and child-scaled lunch counter. There were also three class units, each comprised of two rooms, restrooms, storage areas, and, demonstrating how far we’ve come as a society in understanding and supporting autistic children, space was dedicated to so-called “temper tantrums,” which was open to the core. On the south side, class units opened onto a covered porch and the fenced-in outdoor play yard. This play yard also included a special play hill, two play houses and a sprinkler pool.
Today, the Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center and the Virginia Frank Childhood Development Center are still a thriving space, providing activities for tens of thousands on a yearly base. The Virginia Frank facility is a nationally-recognized pioneer in the field of family-centered child development, and the Horwich Center serves as a major component to many members of the Jewish Community living in Rogers Park, the surrounding neighborhoods and suburbs.