Why is a new temple building complex needed?
The KPC Temple building, which also houses monks and nuns, was built in 1973 as a single-family dwelling. Gradually the house’s function grew from a group of friends gathering in the living room to a large congregation. Over the years, the purpose and mission of the temple have expanded, placing greater demands on the structure, which has never been significantly upgraded.
In 2014 our community realized that the building had outlived its useful life and needed to have significant safety improvements to remain usable as a place of residence, worship and assembly. Built without suitable energy efficiency measures such as insulation, it is very expensive to operate. The building also does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act for a place of worship. With aging infrastructure and leaking pipes, the temple could no longer be used for mixed use, and was closed to the public, severely limiting operations. Through fervent efforts, we were able to renovate the prayer room, put in a firewall between the residence and the prayer room, and re-open that portion of the building to the public in 2015.
Through fervent efforts, we were able to renovate the prayer room, construct a firewall between the residence and the prayer room, and re-open that portion of the building to the public in 2015. While the urgent need to keep the prayer room open has been resolved, the community remains in need of purpose-built, energy-efficient structures that will meet accessibility, life safety and programmatic demands.
Since the assembly and teaching portion of the building has been closed, the community is operating at a loss in terms of space. Any larger events must be held outside in a tent. And there is no longer any gathering space for the community. Simply put, our building is no longer serving the community and must be replaced with a new, energy-efficient facility that honors and supports our organization’s rich lineage, traditions and activities, and reflects our ideals as stewards of the land.
What is Our Vision?
“The future depends on the present.” —The Dalai Lama
We want to create a temple complex that incorporates green building design, makes more efficient use of space and blends with the surrounding agricultural reserve. We want a temple that provides handicapped-accessible, comfortable teaching rooms for adults and children. We envision a complex of buildings like a farm, so that the natural landscape is the focal point.
We seek upgraded facilities and site improvements, including new ordained quarters, a dining facility, offices, storage, a video production studio, and a small store. The centerpiece will be a teaching space designed to provide an intimate setting for 40–50 people, with the ability to overflow into an outdoor gathering space for occasional larger events.
To live in harmony with nature is crucial to Buddhist practice. In this vein, we envision environmental improvements that would include storm water catchment and renovation of wetlands. Our grounds will complement the county’s agricultural setting and offer meadows, gardens and walkways that connect the site’s many stupas. We will minimize our footprint wherever we can and use space much more efficiently. These improvements will allow the community to further develop outreach efforts within Montgomery County and to remain for many years at this location.
What is Our Plan?
The project will take a phased approach: Preliminary Phase, Phase 1, and Phase 2.
We are finishing this phase, which included the prayer room renovation. It also included a full and comprehensive analysis of the issues with our current structure and research into Buddhist spaces and religious places around the world for design inspiration. To determine where windows and features should be placed, the architects have examined the sun’s trajectory across the property throughout the day and around the year. They are also researching sustainable energy strategies, such as solar, thermal, and storm water use. They are looking at active and passive systems, including introducing natural convection using solar chimneys. During this phase, structural, mechanical, civil and landscape engineers have completed a traffic assessment and a schematic design. They are also working on solutions for storm water management issues; they will submit a permit for life safety and storm water management.
Since the temple building cannot be taken down while people are still living in it, the first phase will focus on building new quarters for the monks and nuns and the dining facility. The residences will be a mix of studios with kitchenettes and one-bedroom apartments that share an informal gathering space. The dining facility will be a simple warming kitchen with room for community gatherings and dining, storage and laundry, with outdoor dining on the porch. Phase 1 will also encompass parking, storm water management, firetruck and bus turnaround, and tree preservation. This will allow us to move our current residents out of the temple and into the new residence with minimal disruption.
In the next phase, we will take down the existing temple structure, keeping the mandala in place. We will add a new face to the existing prayer room, and build the teaching space, administrative space for offices, video archives, classrooms, and the small store. We envision the building of a new temple as a community enterprise, like a barn raising where we all come together to bring it into being.