The Capital Jewish Museum and National Building Museum, in collaboration with the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center (DCJCC), present Sukkah City x DC, a public display of creative sukkahs designed by notable architects, on view at the National Building Museum’s west lawn and DCJCC campus from September 18–October 3, 2021. Featuring seven sukkahs, each structure will interpret the theme of “welcoming the stranger” while exploring the traditions of Sukkot.

As part of Sukkot — a week-long Jewish holiday that simultaneously celebrates the Fall harvest and recalls the Israelites’ 40-year journey through the desert — families and communities build sukkahs, temporary structures in which it is customary to share meals, entertain, sleep, and rejoice. “The Sukkot holiday will be especially meaningful this year, as we close a year focused on home, health, and equity,” said Kara Blond, Executive Director of the Capital Jewish Museum. “We celebrate the importance of community by honoring the stories of place and transformation that a sukkah can inspire.” The presentation provides a “modern spin on an ancient tradition,” noted Dava Schlub, CEO of the DCJCC, “and reflects the vibrant Jewish community in our nation’s capital.”

Featuring imaginative and expressive structures that highlight key social justice themes including housing insecurity, displacement, and a changing landscape, Sukkah City x DC asks the visitor to confront the impermanence of our lives and to experience what it would mean to live without a solid roof overhead. Aileen Fuchs, Executive Director of the National Building Museum, called on the ideas of transience and permanence as expressed in architecture, noting, “sukkahs ask us to acknowledge the changing of the seasons, to reconnect with an agricultural past, and to take a moment to dwell on—and dwell in—impermanence.”

Invited architect teams were provided with creative and technical requirements for the designs. Each structure must have three sides and a partial view through the roof to the sky, be large enough to contain two standing people and a shared table, an overhead screen made only of natural materials, and technical requirements befitting construction and stability for the duration of the holiday.

Sukkah City first launched in NYC in 2010 and has been recreated in cities across the country. Sukkah City x DC, the first such presentation in Washington, DC, is a signature program for the Capital Jewish Museum, now under construction a block east of the National Building Museum and set to open to the public in Fall 2022. The project was directed by Stephany Fry, Museum Educator, Capital Jewish Museum, Caitlin Bristol, Exhibitions Developer, National Building Museum, and Dava Schub, CEO, Edlavitch DCJCC. Rabbinical consultation and ritual blessings were provided by Rabbis Aaron Potek and Nora Feinstein, both of Sixth and I Historic Synagogue.

September 18, 2021–October 3, 2021. Access to the exhibition is free and open to the public 24/7.

Participating Architects and Architecture Firms
a complete unknown
Sukkah location: National Building Museum

Escoff & Ng Architects
Sukkah location: Edlavitch DCJCC

hord | coplan | macht
Sukkah location: National Building Museum

Knu Design and Cedar Architecture
Sukkah location: National Building Museum

Shinberg.Levinas
Sukkah location: National Building Museum

SmithGroup
Sukkah location: National Building Museum

A. Robert Zweig
Sukkah location: Edlavitch DCJCC

Related Programs
Community Day
National Building Museum West Lawn

Sunday, September 19, 11 am–2 pm, In person
In celebration of Sukkot, the Capital Jewish Museum and National Building Museum invite you to Sukkah City x DC Community Day! Meet the architects and explore the public display of creative sukkahs on view outdoors at the National Building Museum’s west lawn while you learn about Sukkot and participate in an arts workshop, holiday activities, family story time, and a letter-writing campaign in support of local people experiencing homelessness. Presented in collaboration with DC Public Library, Edlavitch DCJCC, PJ Library and Project Create. Free. In person, masks suggested. Registration encouraged. More information here. 

Panel Program
Thursday, September 23, 6:30–8:00 pm, Online
Hear from the notable architects behind Sukkah City x DC, a creative public art installation that celebrates Sukkot, presented by the Capital Jewish Museum, National Building Museum, and Edlavitch DC JCC. Learn about their inspiration and design process, and how the built environment can impact and inspire a community to reconsider who is welcome. Free. Virtual, registration required. More information here. 

Related Content
The designs will be featured on all partner websites, as well as on their corresponding Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter channels using the hashtag #SukkahCityDC.

Exhibition Support
This presentation was made possible by Andrew R. Ammerman, Esther and Bert Foer, Mark and Judy Lerner and Family, Howard Morse and Laura Loeb, Tina and Albert Small, Gene Sofer and Judith Bartnoff, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, and a HumanitiesDC 2021 Humanities Festivals Partnership Grant.