Consigli Celebrates Thai Buddhist Temple Topping-Out Ceremony

RAYNHAM, MA  — The Wat Nawamintararachutis NMR Meditation Center, a Thai Buddhist temple designed by ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge and constructed by Consigli Construction Co., Inc. (Consigli) celebrated a topping-out ceremony on Thursday, May 3 in Raynham, Massachusetts. When complete, the 110,000-square-foot facility will be the largest Thai Buddhist temple anywhere outside of Thailand according to the design team at ARC, one of the nation’s leading architectural, planning and interior design firms specializing in science, educational, sports and corporate facilities.

Construction of the temple, which is being conducted by Consigli under the direction of the Owner’s Project Director, Paul Chapple R.E. Development, Inc., began in September 2011 and is slated for completion in May 2013. The topping-out ceremony marks the placement of one of the highest structural steel elements of the building during construction.

Abbot Phra Promwachirayan purchased the 50-acre Raynham property in 2006 and then traveled the world studying the elements of various Thai Buddhist temples. His vision of East meeting West was the driving force in the design.

“This is a big milestone for this landmark facility,” said Been Wang, AIA, who is ARC’s principal-in-charge of the project. “It is a great pleasure to watch as our joint vision for this incredible building comes to fruition following five years of planning and design to create one of the finest Buddhist temples in the world.” In addition to Mr. Wang and the design team at ARC, associated design architects led by Wiwatchai Prangpituk and KK of Thailand are assisting with the project. 

The complex will be dedicated to the life of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, the king of Thailand, who was born at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge in December of 1927 while his parents were students at Harvard Medical School and Simmons College. The king is the world’s longest-serving current head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history.

Located on approximately 50 acres of land off South Street East at the intersection of Routes 24 and 44 in Raynham, the complex consists of a temple, residence halls for temple monks and a multi-purpose hall built around a central courtyard. The multi-purpose hall will be used for major Buddhist celebrations during the year, and the local community will be able to utilize the hall for meetings and lectures dedicated to the cultural traditions of Thailand.  In addition, the project includes a museum/library on the first floor dedicated to the king. The second floor will provide a large open space for meditation. The third floor consists of a 2-story temple containing a Buddha which will be imported from Thailand. Painted murals will adorn the interior walls of the temple and the ceiling will be decorated with gold leaf stars imported from Thailand.

Clustering of the building’s many multi-tiered roof gables reduces the massiveness of the structure and is characteristic of both traditional temples in Thailand and rural New England architecture. The design expresses a simple elegance throughout so that the whole complex can be understood as a sum of the elements. The exterior materials are architectural concrete and limestone with decorative roof shingles, which will be durable in the New England climate. Special attention has been given to the roof details to incorporate elements of Thai culture.

The centerpiece and most prominent feature of the complex is the 3-story temple, topped by a Chedi, or steeple, which pays tribute to Buddha. It will be painted gold and reach a soaring height of 185 feet.