Vedanta Society addition

An new addition to a old home along historic Angell Street brings new character and larger space for those that want to practice their zen

About this Property

#Proposal

The Vedanta Society of Providence is a branch of the Ramakrishna Order in India and was founded by Swami Akhilananda in 1928. Vedanta is the philosophical foundation of Hinduism, but it is universal in its application, being relevant to all countries, all cultures, and all religious backgrounds of all times. “Vedanta” is a combination of two words: Veda means “knowledge” and anta means “the end of” or “the goal of.”

The Society has a complicated history of building ownership on the East Side:

1930
The newly formed Society purchases 224 Angell Street on the corner of Cabot Street, having previously rented space at 241 Weybosset Street. The house is renovated to become a chapel and the swami’s living quarters.
1996
The Society acquired a house across the street at 221 Angell and renovates it into a women’s guest house.
2000
The Wheeler School and the Society swap properties: 224 Angell is exchanged for a larger house at 227. The Society now owns two adjacent properties — 221 and 227 — and also purchases the vacant lot at 233 for parking. Wheeler will demolish the house at 224 in 2014 for their Gilder Center for the Arts expansion. Cabot street is abandoned and becomes part of the campus at this time as well.
October 15, 2010
Ground broke on the new and larger Chapel. The home at 221 was demolished for this expansion and the new Chapel was attached to 227.
April 2012
The new Chapel was complete and open.

Paraphrased from KITE Architects website case study about the project:

KITE’s design for a major addition for the Vedanta Society is creating new worship space, seminar facilities, offices, and lodging for visiting scholars and guests. […] Located on a major historic street in Providence on College Hill, the design started with a scale and massing that is intended to respect its institutional and residential neighbors and create a street edge compatible with the walkable community. An eye to energy efficiency and cost effective yet durable materials is an important factor. Features such as a green area with sunscreens and deep overhangs provide a tranquil garden area within a very tight urban site, and also reduce cooling loads in the summer.

#Design Reception

We think the the new addition is beautiful — the interior spaces are textured and visually interesting while also still being very calm to look at and enjoy. The simple restrained use of color allows the surfaces to be much more active. The exterior is not a house, of course, so its size fits while its function and interior scale stands out. The scale of the windows on the front of the building mimic its neighbors so that visual lines as one looks down the street are not interrupted. All in all, we think it is a very respectful and “zen” new space for Angell Street.