Future DRBU Building Renovation Begins

Dec 29, 2015

By Stan Shoptaugh
文: 史丹·沙普塔夫

Chinese Translation by Shiyu You
中譯: 游世裕

People with clipboards, tape measures, and large rolls of paper stand across the street from Building 123. Everyone talks animatedly, shaping with their hands and eagerly describing their observations to one another. Architects, engineers, and Dharma Realm Buddhist University administrators have gathered on a bright August morning to kick off the renovation of the future DRBU Main Building.


The 65,000 square-foot complex is the second largest building on the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas campus, located just east of the Developing Virtue Boys School. Known to CTTB residents as Building 123, the future DRBU Main Building was originally built in the 1950’s as part of the Mendocino State Hospital. DRBU plans to carry out the change of occupancy and renovation project in several phases.


With the launch of the new BA and MA degree programs and the significant strides made toward formal accreditation, DRBU is currently experiencing an unprecedented growth that has resulted in a critical and imminent need for adequate space. The University has outgrown the capacity of its current building. According to President Susan Rounds, “We are using every available space in the current DRBU building, and it is oftentimes difficult to schedule a class or a meeting because the rooms are already full. Students also need more quiet study spaces. Everyone at DRBU—faculty, staff, students—is very excited about plans for the new building. We can’t wait!”


The first phase of the change of occupancy project, scheduled to be completed in the Fall of 2016, encompasses the South Wing and will provide approximately 25,000 square feet of much-needed space for classrooms, study areas, offices, meeting rooms, a Chan hall, and student activities. The DRBU community recently completed a lively daylong discussion around their aspirations for the University’s new home, enthusiastically exchanging ideas about space and design with architects Larry Strain and Karen Richards.


Leading the project are Siegel & Strain Architects from Emeryville, California. The nationally recognized 25-person firm specializes in adaptive reuse and sustainable design, with extensive experience in education projects. Collaborating closely with the architects, DRBU hopes to create a building that best fulfills the University mission.


Project manager Kristine Ang Go shared the spirit of the renovation, “In the same way that our academic program activates the intrinsic wisdom of the students, we want to bring out the inherent characteristics and strengths of the future DRBU Main Building. The buildings on the CTTB campus are incredibly well-built and can last hundreds of years. Our job is to uncover their latent qualities and allow them to shine through. DRBU students learn from texts that are centuries old. The teachings are immemorial, yet the way our students apply the wisdom is contemporary. We will be expressing this in spatial form by taking a timeless building and reinterpreting the architecture to reflect modern times.”


Venerable Master Hsuan Hua designated Building 123 to house the main educational programs of Dharma Realm Buddhist University. According to Wayne Chen, Director of Development, “During his lectures on the Avatamsaka Sutra, the Venerable Master compared the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to the Jeta Grove (Jetavana) and the future DRBU Main Building to the Great Towering Pavilion where the Buddha spoke the Avatamsaka Sutra. He tasked us to build a great University that would benefit the world. We are humbled by his vision. At the same time, we are very happy to be making progress toward the Venerable Master’s vow with the new degree programs and our progress toward accreditation. Building spaces is a crucial element of our plan, and we appreciate everyone’s support to make this project a reality.”


To learn more, please contact the Office of Development at