Established as a home for the Central Texas division of Chinmaya Mission, an international non-profit Hindu spiritual organization, this new 8-acre campus is characterized by an architectural language that reinterprets traditional Indian typologies in order to reflect the organization’s modern context. Presented with the unique opportunity of designing a Hindu mission in Central Texas, the architects applied their knowledge of local building materials to create a visual language that is rich in texture, sculptural in quality, and innovative in design.
The campus master plan combines the traditional vastu shastra principles of Hindu design—emphasizing geometric patterns, symmetry, and directional alignments—with a contemporary sensibility. Working within the restrictive budget of a non-profit organization, design was not sacrificed; rather, it inspired the design team to find a vocabulary that was simple yet refined. In elevation, white stucco walls and pitched roofs recall traditional Indian typologies; large windows provide abundant natural light in every occupied space; and deep overhangs offer refuge from the hot Texas sun.
Serving as the educational hub of the mission center, the Bala Vihar consists of 12 classrooms plus a central gallery and large covered patio for congregation and social events. Three of the classrooms utilize operable partitions to create larger spaces as needed, while the central gallery plays multiple roles as circulation, display space, and assembly hall.
At the temple, the prevalence of symmetry and geometry are reminders of traditional Hindu religious architecture. Beginning in the central meditation hall and moving out toward the perimeter of rough-cut, locally-sourced limestone blocks, a series of concentric circles, squares, and rectangles—including an illuminated pattern in the meditation hall’s dramatically-sloped ceiling—references traditional mandala-inspired architecture. Above the shrine, the most sacred space in the temple, light from concealed skylights is reflected by a golden wall, creating an aura around three deities arrayed with bright robes and flowers.
Chinmaya Mission Austin
Winner, AIA Religious Art & Architecture Awards
Design Award, Texas Society of Architects
Design Award, AIA Austin Design Awards
Honorable Mention, American Architecture Prize
Special Mention, Architizer A+ Awards
Student Architecture Award, UT School of Architecture