Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Temple of mindfulness
Thank you for the front and back page engaging story "Buddhist temple opens" (June 17). What a credit to the citizens of Ashland that Lamas Pema and Yeshe encouraged by Lodru Rinpoche brought their vision to reality. At an open house for donors, the Lamas thanked architect Carlos Delgado, who designed the building, builder John Fields, as well as Clay Colley, who coordinated the numerous volunteers, along with many others who helped bring about this generous facility as a gift to humanity.
Reading John Darling's article, through the eyes of an architect, I was struck by the absence of credit for architect of record Carlos Delgado. In the United States the role of architects as form givers is frequently passed over or misunderstood. In Kagyu Sukha Chöling, Delgado deserves credit for skillfully bringing forward the indigenous idiom of Tibetan architecture and incorporating it into a temple for our time that clearly identifies its lineage, while being harmonious with its neighbors, as well as being energy efficient and built to last for generations.
This is no easy task, I have experienced firsthand the profound challenges of successful architectural design. To design a building of merit and integrity like Kagyu Sukha Choling, an architect must be a Renaissance person of many talents — a diplomat to communicate effectively with the client and multiple inter-disciplinary colleagues, not to mention builders and building officials, through the innumerable complex issues involved in the design, detailing, execution and financing of such a building project. Architects cannot fulfill the needs of the user while shaping the structure appropriately and gracefully without a broad knowledge of history and culture. In addition, an architect must understand structural and mechanical engineering and a host of other disciplines.
Since ancient times, critics have wrestled with guidelines. In the first century BCE, Roman architect Vitruvius wrote that a building must be solid, useful and beautiful. Frank Lloyd Wright, who cut his teeth in the Chicago School under Louis Sullivan and went on to create the uniquely American "Prairie Houses," coined the phrase, "Form follows function." Ludwig Mies van der Rohe of the Bauhaus and International School pledged, the oft-forgotten, "Less is more."
The lack of an indigenous architecture as a foundation has posed a challenge for architects in North America, leading to borrowing of styles from other times and places. Chicago architects Sullivan and Richardson drew from the Renaissance Palazzos of 14th century Florence for the first American skyscrapers; The Classic Revival was derived from Greek and Roman architecture; Frank Lloyd Wright and the brothers Green and Green developed the Craftsman Style from the comfy Arts and Crafts Movement in England; West Coast towns like San Francisco, Ferndale and Ashland were styled from pattern books of Victorian Carpenter Gothic designs. Here in Ashland on Bear Creek, horribly kitsch Tudor half-timber was, until recently, considered fitting for commerce. To add to the hodgepodge of styles in 1925 the dream of an impressive hotel, like those in the big cities back East, brought us the Mark Anthony Hotel (Lithia Springs) in violation of Main Street's cozy scale. All across America, Los Angeles' own "Googie Architecture" brought us themes like Taco Bell or the arches of McDonald's.
My hat is off to the Lamas of Kagyu Sukha Chöling, architect Carlos Delgado, consulting architect Joyce Ward, contractor John Field, volunteer coordinator Clay Colley and the entire team for a superb job of meeting today's needs with a building that fulfills Vitruvius' challenge of Firmness, Fitness and Delight, Wright's Form Follows Function and even the restraint of Mies' Less is More.
Retired architect John Fisher-Smith has lived in Ashland for 28 years.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
All About Moving-Chris Espinoza; Beth Ann Dolos; Bob Salisbury; Brenda Cornett; Brophy, Mills, Schmor, Gerking & Brophy, LLP- Doug Schmor; Bruce Thornburn; Buckhorn Springs-The Sargent Family; Carlos Delgado-Architect; Carolyn Brand Design; Clay Colley Builder, Inc.; Commercial Sign & Design Co.; Crystal Castle Graphics; Don Koscis Tile; Dave Mizerack; Dean J. Osimkowski; Denise Kesti Ewing; Dennis David; Dennis White; Derek Volkart; DJ Design-David Hess; Dougal Hess; Golden-Fields Construction & Design, Ltd.- John Fields; Greg Claflin; Hakati Enterprises; Helena’s Catering-Helena Darling; J.A.M. Groundscape-Andrew Markham; Jake Walsh; James Consulting, Inc.- Lisa James; James L. Slate Construction; Jay Dwyer; Joyce C. Ward-Architect; Laurie Sager & Associates, Inc.; Marcia O’Rourke; Marie Maretska; Mark A. Davidson Construction; Mark Knox; Michael Loper- Loper Design; Michaeldavid Uri; Miller Paint, Ashland; Minuteman Press of Medford; Mountain Millworks- George McKinley; Noel Leslie Event Services, Inc.; Northwest Cabinet Co.- Steve Clark; Perfwood Doors-Larry Bishop; Phoenix Organics; Phyllis A. Norris, CPA, PC; prime stucco, inc.; Quality Catering; Randy Ellison; Robert Salisbury; Rogue Valley Backflow Service- Mark Jamieson; Roi Crouch; Sat Purkha; Scott B. Moore Construction; Sentient Times; SOLARC Architecture & Engineering, Inc.; Sound and Fury- Chris Wood; Stoneworks by James- James Olsen; Superior Stamp and Sign- Linda Dupray; Tom Stammers; United Pipe- Dave Searcy; West Wind Collection, LLC- France Robinson.
We look forward to the transition from building this structure to utilizing the sanctuary for the practice of meditation and study of the Buddhist path, open to all who are interested.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Inner and Outer Beauty at Kagyu Sukha Chöling
A culmination of faith, determination and cooperation by a community of Buddhists and non-Buddhists has transformed a vision into reality. Kagyu Sukha Chöling, a center for the practice and study of Tibetan Buddhism now has a permanent home in Ashland, Oregon. Dedicated to supporting individuals at any stage of their spiritual journey, the KSC Tibetan Buddhist Center opened in June 2010.
When Lama Pema Clark and Lama Yeshe Parke came to Ashland in 2000 at the request of their teacher, Venerable Lama Lodru Rinpoche, they had no idea what awaited them. First meeting in private homes, then in a leased house, it soon became apparent that even the house was too small to meet the needs of their rapidly growing group. In retrospect, one might say their destiny was catching up with them sooner than later.
The search for a more appropriate location led the sangha through an extended process, exploring options of renting vs. building. Ultimately the desire for more adequate space escalated the group into property owners with building approval for an authentic Tibetan Buddhist Center.
Two aspects of the project are of great significance. In keeping with the Buddhist philosophy of living in harmony with the earth, the building was planned to be environmentally sustainable. The project was a community effort by local architects, contractors, suppliers and laborers with volunteers playing a major role. Ultimately, 100 men, women and children donated many hours to perform a vast array of services, saving close to $200,000 in building costs.
Carlos Delgado, architect, explains that the design of the 6000 sq. ft. structure is a fairly simple passive building—a pioneering, mixed-use structure, utilizing green and sustainable architecture and construction. Passive heating and cooling methods rely on occupants’ modulation of systems; advanced framing techniques save wood and provide more insulation space; energy-efficient lighting, solar hot water with maximum energy-efficient appliances all conserve water and electricity. As an added touch of beauty, regionally adapted plants are featured in a low-water-use landscape and contemplative garden adjacent to nearby wetlands.
Clay Colley, semi-retired building contractor and sangha member, coordinated and supervised the volunteers, whose efforts began in earnest after the general contractor completed the bulk of the structure. He explains that a local man donated trees from his property that he had cut and dried to be milled for use in all the beams and posts.
“I’ve had the satisfaction of teaching people with few building skills to prepare and paint the inside and outside of the building, finish the concrete floors and stain all woodwork, including boards and beams. Countless hours with huge savings. Volunteers also have been key in the massive amount of cleanup, separating plastic, paper, wood and concrete—striving to recycle or reuse everything.”
Clay concludes, “Everyone wants to have their hands on this building. Our connection to our teachers and to the center has become so enriched by this experience. It’s been an opportunity to practice our intentions. Putting our efforts into this building has come back a thousand times.”
Other volunteers support these sentiments, mentioning the camaraderie that has developed among the volunteers of all ages, the excitement and joy they feel to be part of the vision, whether or not they are Buddhists. According to one retiree, “In this third chapter of my life I want to be in service to causes that are ethical. This community feels like home.” Another man who appeared out of the blue, offering to lay 7 1/2 tons of stone, explains his contribution of time and skill, “When I finally understood my purpose and started giving away my gifts, everything came back to me.”
Nevertheless, this creation of a beautiful and unique home for peaceful and compassionate practice remains secondary to the teachings and activities that have also grown. Monthly Sunday meditations are open to all, alternating Tonglen, Calm Abiding and Silent Sit. Calm Abiding is also offered on some weekday evenings. Other Tibetan style meditations such as Chenrezig, Mahakala, Green Tara and Four Tantric Deities occur regularly, with practice support groups provided as well. Two weekly classes with varied topics occur in fall, winter and spring as well as day-long retreats on site along with three and seven day retreats off site. Special events bring visiting Lamas to the community, with visitor quarters now available in the new building.
DharmaKids, a group of children ages 5-12, meets twice monthly to learn mindfulness and compassion, the basic tenets of Buddhism, through stories, meditation, exercises and games. A pre-teen group is planned for the fall and eventually a teen group will be added.
Kagyu Sukha Chöling Meditation Center welcomes all who seek a path of peace and a life imbued with kindness and compassion. The doors are now open for all to enter.
Friday, July 2, 2010
in making the center happen.