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Green addition to Ananda’s campus

With windows opening over St. Francis Pond, the new performing arts auditorium in the Ananda Living Wisdom Center is intended to fit in with its natural surroundings.

At Ananda Village on the San Juan Ridge, that means green mountainsides and rolling meadows.

Sunlight shone through the cool fall air of one of the building’s unfinished classrooms as J.T. Heater, the $1.4 million project’s architect and an Ananda resident, looked over the unfinished work.



Workers began construction on the 5,075-square-foot building in April 2009. When finished, it will include an auditorium, classrooms and an art gallery.

The project includes a number of sustainable “green” features. Construction is expected to take another year to complete.




“This is a 200-year building,” Heater said. “It’ll be here long after any of us, so we may as well build it the right way.”

Once it’s completed, the building will house Ananda’s orchestral and choral groups, who play in a number of smaller indoor facilities at Ananda when it’s too cold to use the outdoor amphitheater.

“We’re looking forward to an intimate performance venue that’s as uplifting as the music that’s played there,” said David Eby, director of music at the Ananda Living Wisdom School and Ananda Village. “We’re also very much looking forward to using it as a dance venue.”

Heater pointed to the building’s exterior walls as one of its greenest attributes.

They are made of a product called Faswall, which is a brick made of compressed wood chips soaked in concrete and aligned along steel rebar.

The material is dense, and it was difficult to cut into the rounded corners Heater envisioned when he designed the building, he said.

“That took a lot of time,” Heater said, smirking. “I heard a lot of groans.”

The Faswall insulates heat in the building while a nocturnal ventilation system pushes the heated air out of the building at night, allowing it to maintain a consistent temperature.

The workforce building Heater’s brainchild are mostly fellow Ananda residents, along with a few subcontractors, he said.

Financing for the project came from donations to Ananda Village. The project fulfills a need the residents and school have had for quite some time, Heater said.

“We needed to have a space for the artists, as well as a main space that’s acoustically good,” he said.

Heater hopes the building will become a community center and conference site, he added.

To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail kmagin@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4239.


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