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Retreat Center Construction Project
Latest Updates and Photos
Over the years, members of our community have frequently spoken about how retreat accommodation privacy better supports deeper practice and a sense of refuge. In response, a major building project is now in full swing at our Retreat Center.
Just after Labor Day 2012, crews arrived to begin work. First up is construction of a new dormitory and a connector linking it to the Annex and Catskills accommodations, as well as a new external Catskills stair tower. As soon as the new dorm is ready for occupancy in early summer 2013, a full renovation of the Catskills will start.
When the project is all completed by late summer 2013, every IMS retreatant will be able to stay in a single room. Find out more about our vision and plans.
May 2013 – Many finishing touches to the exterior and the interior of the new dormitory are in place. Over the next few weeks, the construction crew will continue to paint the exterior, install staircases and move furniture into place.
Here's the new dormitory after its first coat of paint.
Over the last few weeks, the construction crew has been at work on replacing the retaining wall that runs along parallel to the Catskills. After the concrete was poured, earth was poured back into place.
The stone masons have built a well-crafted stone wall and set of granite steps between the new dormitory and the Annex porch (out of sight on left).
In the new dormitory, flooring and furniture have been installed in most rooms. This view shows the wardrobe on the left and the sink and closet on the right. The bed will be placed on the left.
April 2013 – Both the exterior and the interior of the new dormitory and connector continue to move closer to completion. All rooms and hallways have a first coat of paint. On the outside, the crew are almost finished installing the clapboards. In addition, lighting fixtures and fire-safe exterior doors are starting to be put into place.
A mini-roof supported by chains protects this exterior door on the east side of the connector.
In the interior of the connector, the first coat of paint is done, and next comes the flooring. A heating element can be seen on the right.
The concrete-compound clapboards are currently being installed on the new dormitory. Later, the grey will be painted a Georgian-Red.
Here's the latest view from the top of the stairtower overlooking the new dormitory.
March 2013 – To prepare for the installation of clapboard siding, strapping has been nailed to the exterior walls of the new dormitory. In addition, cedar sills, mahoghany side casings and pine top casings are now in place around the windows. The building passed an airtightness test with flying colors – even before sheetrocking and plastering had been completed. This is good news for energy efficency!
Prep for clapboarding nears completion.
The rooms in the new dormitory have been completely drywalled and are beginning to be painted. IMS Facilities staff have been assisting the construction crew by cleaning surfaces of dust in preparation for painting.
A west-facing single room, freshly painted.
The informal sitting area overlooking the grounds on the second floor.
This view is from the top of the stair tower that will connect all three floors of the soon-to-be renovated Catskills dormitory. The new dormitory is visible through the window.
A staff member offered lovingkindness for future retreatants.
February 2013 – To document the exterior work to date, we've put together a short timelapse video covering September 2012 through January 2013. Watch the building take shape before your eyes!
At this point, exterior work is on hold through the rest of the winter. In spring when the weather is warm enough, the siding for the new dormitory, connector and Catskills stair tower will be added.
This recent panorama shows much of the exterior work completed, including a covered entry (bottom R) for the connector. The black coating applied to all outside walls stops air and moisture from penetrating the building envelope, resulting in greater heat efficiency and dampness prevention.
Over the last month, the interior of the new dormitory has seen many developments. Most of the framing for individual rooms has now been completed, and the soundproofing and drywall processes have begun. Electrical work has continued, and various crews have been installing plumbing, heating and ventilation systems for both floors. A sprinkler system and some bathroom fixtures have also been put in place.
The framing for most of the rooms is complete.
Soundproofing and drywall processes are underway.
On the second floor, there will be a small lounge overlooking the grounds.
January 2013 – The exterior of the new Retreat Center dormitory is closer to completion! By the the start of 2013, the construction crew had begun installing windows and are soon to work on the interior framing.
The windows were delivered and stored temporarily in the first floor of the building for protection from the elements.
The first floor windows were installed at the beginning of January.
This view shows the interior of the second floor with many windows now in place.
December 2012 – Over the last month, the new Retreat Center dormitory went through dramatic changes. The framing of the second floor was completed, and when the roof trusses were set in place, the overall dimensions of the building became clear.
Trusses are lifted into position, creating the support work for the roof of the new dormitory.
In accordance with an old builders’ tradition, after the basic structure of the roof was completed, a small spruce was positioned at the peak to mark this significant point in the building's progress.
This view of the new dormitory was taken from the roof of the Retreat Center meditation hall.
A view from the interior looking up into the framing of the second floor and roof.
November 2012 – Construction proceeds apace! In recent weeks, foundations for the new dormitory were put in and insulated, utility lines were installed, and sheathing put up for the connector and Catskills stair tower. By mid-November, framing for the new dormitory was underway and walls were going up.
The connector and stair tower.
This view from the second floor of the Catskills shows the framing for the first floor of the new dormitory.
This perspective shows how the new dormitory (L) and connector are situated in relation to existing Retreat Center accommodations.
October 2012 – The work on the new dormitory and the adjoining connector progresses steadily.
In the area behind the Catskills, the ground level was raised to provide smooth access to the Annex and the connector, and a sidewalk installed. The newly seeded topsoil greened up quickly.
In September, this is how the area at the end of the Catskills looked as the work got underway.
Just a few weeks later, the under-structure of the connector that will join the three dormitories was in place. This view shows how it extends along the end of the Annex to the point where it will eventually join the new building. Beyond the wooden framing, the area that has been excavated for the foundation of the new building is visible.
Then in early October, framing for the connector walls went up. Quite a dramatic change in one month!
September 2012 – Construction has begun! To honor this milestone, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 9 on the site of the new dormitory. Its purpose was to send well wishes to the many beings (seen and unseen) who are associated with or affected by this project.
The visual centerpiece for the ceremony was a beautiful dhammacakka mandala. This wheel of flower petals symbolizes the Buddha's teachings of awakening and liberation.
Over a hundred people, including teachers, Three-Month Retreat participants, staff and IMS friends, gathered around the mandala. Words of gratitude were expressed for all who have committed to this endeavor in a variety of ways – those who envisioned and planned it, those who offered their resources and those now involved in the construction.
IMS teachers Greg Scharf (R) and Susan O'Brien (L) led the gathering in a Metta (lovingkindness) chant.
IMS co-founder Joseph Goldstein prepares to dig the ceremonial first scoop of earth.
The ceremony concluded with the tossing of flower petals from the mandala into the new dormitory's footprint.
May 2012 – Currently, some preparations are underway between retreats.
March 2012 – Our major fundraising effort is over! We have reached our goal of $2,350,000 to construct a new Retreat Center dormitory and to renovate the Catskills. Heartfelt thanks to all in our community who generously supported our vision.
Plans are on schedule to break ground in early September and to complete the entire project by mid-2013. Site surveying was undertaken in late 2011, a preliminary yet thorough cost estimate was recently finished and architectural and engineering specifications are being finalized.
October 2011 – To prepare the site of the new dormitory, the secondary parking lot near the Annex has been discontinued. To compensate, the main parking area along Pleasant Street was recently extended.
A view of the parking lot, looking down toward the Reflection Pond.
August 2011 – Thanks to the wonderful generosity of IMS’s friends and supporters, we crossed the $2,000,000 threshold towards our $2,350,000 goal to construct a new Retreat Center dormitory and to renovate the 'Catskills' accommodation wing.
April 2011 – During last spring's Monastic Retreat, Ajahn Sucitto conducted a ceremony of blessing and gratitude for some trees that needed to be removed to make way for the new dormitory. In order to utilize the timber from them in the construction project, they were taken down in September so that the lumber can be milled and dried in time.
Ajahn Sucitto (C), Ajahn Jayanto (L) and Ayya Medhanandi Bhikkhuni (R) began the ceremony with chanting.
Ajahn Sucitto blesses one of the trees.