Soka Gakkai Intl.-USA Buddhist Culture Center, Washington, D.C.

Oct. 1, 2008

Project Innovations 2008


The Soka Gakkai Intl. (SGI)-USA is the second oldest Buddhist community in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. With a growing membership, a larger facility was necessary. Its Culture Center features 8,000 square feet of program space, plus a 200-seat main sanctuary with baby rooms, a 50-seat sanctuary, two prayer/study spaces with Buddhist altars, counseling and small-group rooms, administrative office space, and more.

Special Design Elements
Unique design features for the Culture Center include a 2,500-square-foot garden roof for stormwater management, a hardscape and landscape plan consistent with the Buddhist faith and the neighboring diplomatic embassies, and an exterior façade consistent with the city's historic-preservation legislation. The hardscape plazas include entry canopies, a fountain, a flagpole, cast-stone steps, concrete pavers, benches, concrete walls, precast copings, and veneered retaining walls. The lush botanical plan includes Red Dragon Japanese Maples, Kwanzan Cherry, Japanese Snowbells, and Japanese Zelkova trees.

Design/Construction Challenges
Because the purchased lot is adjacent to the Embassy of Cape Verde, which is housed in the Babcock-Macomb House, a landmark listed in the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites, the project faced the challenges of being approved by the Historic Preservation Review Board and complying with the city's historic-preservation legislation. Also, with embassies on either side of the site, construction had to be precisely coordinated to not disrupt traffic.


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