Buddhist Churches of America
A landmark, art-deco-style building in downtown Berkeley, CA, that formerly housed a car franchise for the owner of famed racehorse Seabiscuit, has undergone a major transformation recently at the hands of DPR and Hayashida Architects. Following a renovation and expansion project that was completed last July, the historical 1930s structure has been reinvented as a mixed-use facility for the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA). Now home to the Institute of Buddhist Studies, the building also contains branch offices for the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, BCA’s main temple in Kyoto, Japan, and Ryukoku University also located in Kyoto, which is affiliated with the Institute of Buddhist Studies. Additionally, the building includes a book store and coffee bar, lecture hall, classroom, dormitory, offices and associated facilities.
Client: Buddhist Churches of America
Architect: Hayashida Architects
Construction Manager: Head Real Properties, Inc.
The complex project entailed the addition of two stories to the south portion of the building, creating a three-story structure, totaling nearly 35,000 sq. ft., as well as the addition of a 12,000-sq.-ft. underground parking garage. The existing north portion of the building retained its original single-story design, but the interior was completely revamped to accommodate the new use. DPR was able to recycle and salvage more than 93 percent of the materials from the existing structure, just one of the green friendly elements of this project.
The Japanese Mon gate serves as part of the building’s entryway through a garden and into the renovated building. Additionally, another key architectural focal point is a two-story light well over a Japanese landscape “meditation garden,“located on the second floor of the new addition. The building’s new interior also features a Kodo, or multipurpose hall complete with a chapel, for Buddhist ministerial training. To accomplish the exacting work of creating and installing the altar components in the chapel, the owner brought over wood workers and installers from Kyoto, Japan, which added another layer of complexity to the construction process. “The installers were working in a different environment than they were used to, and there was a lot of coordination involved,“says architect Sady Hayashida. “In Japan, temples are usually built in conjunction with the altar, but in this case, the altar components had to be fabricated to fit the dimensions of the existing walls.”
The project began in the middle of the rainy season, creating major challenges for the project team as they strived to keep the existing building dry while also completing excavation work for the addition. During excavation for the parking garage, DPR devised a solution to add crushed and compacted base rock into the hole dug out to grade, which protected against water. The footings were then excavated through the base rock and flash coated with shotcrete to protect them from crumbling and sloughing in the heavy rains.
A recent dedication ceremony and public opening heralded the completion of this important new cultural facility and marked a special accomplishment for architect Hayashida. “It has provided me with a sense of completion of a dream that I had while in school,“he said. Hayashida had taken on the concept of this very project nearly 40 years ago as his senior architectural project at University of California, Berkeley.
Posted on June 8, 2011
Last Updated August 23, 2022