Carlos Jiménez
Faculty Work

Won Buddhism is a reformed, modernized Buddhism first established in Korea in 1916. Designed to cultivate the mind toward enlightenment and equilibrium, it aspires to reconcile the disparity between material and spiritual civilization. Won Buddhism has over one million practitioners worldwide, with centers in 23 countries. The Houston center, the largest in Texas, is located 12 miles west from the city’s downtown. Situated in a verdant suburban setting, the property is surrounded by a variety of low-density residential, commercial, and institutional buildings. An existing one-story house was removed to clear space for the new 6,000 square-foot building, a two-story wood, steel frame, and masonry structure that houses the Dharma Hall (meditation and prayer room), a small gallery, library, community kitchen, and offices, with the minister’s living quarters and guest rooms on the second floor. The center is carefully placed beneath the canopy of three venerable oak trees, integrating their shade and shape as essential design components. The double-height Dharma Hall, the centerpiece of the complex, is placed at the east end of the property, away from the noise of the busy four-lane commercial street to the west. The carefully lit volume is the sacred space where services and ceremonies are held. A golden won (“circle” in Korean), the symbol of Won Buddhism, hangs above the low, cantilevered mahogany shelf of the altar. Its radiance embodies the essence of truth and enlightenment.

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