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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
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U Architecture Students Design Tibetan Community Center

Salt Lake City’s Tibetan community now has a place to call their own.

The Utah Tibetan Association (UTA) stated on its website that the number of Tibetans living in Utah has grown to over 200 people. To keep connected, UTA approached the U School of Architecture last spring, asking for help in designing a new community center.

Approximately 60 Tibetan refugees arrived in Salt Lake City following the Immigration Act of 1990. Since then, the majority have integrated into the surrounding community. As the first generation of Utah Tibetans gets older, Lobsang Tsering, president of the UTA, said building a regular meeting place was an important way to preserve Tibetan culture.

“The younger generations spend most of their time on technology devices by themselves and we wanted a way to get them together,” Tsering said.

U professor Lisa Henry-Benham incorporated UTA’s project into a course she was leading in community engagement. Henry-Benham said UTA’s concept is strongly emphasized in the College of Architecture and Planning, and she believes that “architecture is a service industry.”

She presented the community center idea to her students as an opportunity to show how their field reflects culture.

Students divided into groups, researched Tibetan culture and conceptualized several designs for the center, then presented their ideas to UTA. When constructing their ideas, students received guidance from contractor John W. Paulsen in regards to permits and building codes.

Matt Green, a graduate student in architectural studies, was part of the group whose design was chosen. Green said he and his classmate had discovered an important connection between religion and Tibetan culture. Their goal was to express this in their work.

Using natural elements such as wood, the design was simple and centered on a Buddhist shrine as the focal point for the rest of the space. It aimed to create a spatially unifying force, providing an apt metaphor for the unity that the UTA hopes to bring to its members.

“We were trying to create an anchor for that community,” said Green.

The Tibetan Community Ceremony, located at 2950 S. 135 West, was opened on Oct. 11. While the Dalai Lama was originally going to dedicate the center, the opening ceremony was instead officiated by Tibetan Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay.

Tsering appreciated how the U students approached the project with enthusiasm and attention to detail. He said the UTA plans to use the center to hold language, dance and Tibetan culture classes, along with other celebrations and activities, for the younger members of their community. They also hope to continue fundraising to eventually expand the space.

[email protected]

@NikiVenugopal

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