This is a design for a temple for Saraswati Bhawan to be built on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River in northern Iowa.  When it is completed it will house a 3-dimensional Tibetan Buddhist mandala that will be about 20′x20′x 20′. In the Buddhist tradition, it is believed that there are special types of monuments that possess powerful energetic abilities to remove negativity and protect from disaster. One example is a full-scale, three-dimensional mandala. These types of monuments have the ability to bestow great blessings throughout the earth—permeating the five elements with their power.  It was predicted in ancient Buddhist texts that the energy of Vajrakilaya (P’hurba) would be of particular importance in restoring peace and balance on the earth at this critical time. Vakrakilaya is the powerful embodiment of all the Buddha’s activities and is the remover of obstacles.

The mandala will be constructed in the center of the temple with space around it for circumambulation and ritual gatherings. The whole temple rests on a 4′ raised base that is 64′x 64′ oriented to true north, south, east and west.  There’s an 8′ deep covered perimeter walkway around the outside.  The exterior ICF (insulated concrete form) walls are 12″ thick and 17′ high.  The plan of the temple is itself a mandala; symmetrical with entrances in the 4 directions.  There’s a mezzanine level, 10′ above the main floor, for viewing the intricate upper parts of the 3D mandala. There are clerestory windows all around the top of the walls to bring natural light onto the mandala and allow for viewing the majestic scenery from the mezzanine level.  The awning window in the cupola  at the very top center brings more light down into the center of the space and produces good ventilation.

One challenging parameter in the design is the lack of interior columns. The roof is supported on 6″x 18″ concrete column integrated in the exterior walls, 9′-7″ O.C.  The arch-like buttresses help support the 7″x 15″ glulam beams that hold up the main roof.  The cupola is supported on a compression ring built of 6″x 16″s.  The roof over the perimeter walkway, with it’s steel columns embedded 4′ deep into concrete bases, helps counter the outward thrust caused by the compression ring.

Fundraising is proceeding well and we hope to start construction in 2012.

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