Sunday, October 20, 2013

Colorado Wat Lao unveils plans for rebuilding

A little over two years ago, in December, 2011, the Wat Lao in Westminster, Colorado burned down. This was tragic at many levels. The Denver Post recently reported that plans for the reconstruction have been unveiled, but the community will need to pull together from across the country to make it happen.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to take several pictures there before the blaze in June, 2011. The community members there were warm and welcoming, and clearly a positive part of the lives of Lao in Colorado.

This wat was home to many of my favorite examples of Lao artwork, many of which were lost in the destruction. Among the artworks lost were over 50 gold, bronze and ivory Buddhas, including one that was over 15 feet, as well as many fine murals.

Emmy Thammasine, an architect based in Denver, has been in the lead to create the redesign for the new wat. According to the article, "the hardest part of the design was reconciling the traditional needs of the Buddhist culture with necessary building infrastructure that met all the code standards for the city of Westminster."

Among the other conditions that need to be met are ensuring the space has "safe, functional electrical wiring, and a sound barrier wall to break up the echoes created from early morning chanting before they reach the houses directly south of the property."

Wat Lao Sida Ounnaram, also known as Lao Buddhist Temple of Colorado is located at 10685 Dover Street in Broomfield, Colorado. The wat was first established in 1989. The Venerable Ounkham Veunnasack Thammavaro was the lead contact there.

Their website used to be at but it is currently down and their facebook has not been updated recently.

"The fire consumed 90 percent of the art, artifacts, writings and architecture that Laotian refugees brought with them to Westminster in the last century, including a sacred book that was more than 1,000 years old," Maly Khanthaphixay said.

Here's wishing them much success in the reconstruction.

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