After nearly two decades, three different homes and hundreds of miles, the cherished model of the Jodo Shinshu Center has finally found a permanent home at the BCA’s Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley, California.
Sady Hayashida, Principal Architect for the JSC and a lifelong Berkeley Buddhist Temple Sangha member, donated the scaled matboard model that he and his office built to physically illustrate and assist in the BCA fundraising effort for the center.
The time, attention and care to detail by his office made it difficult to let it go. However, the model took up space in the Hayashida family dining room, after being on display previously in his architectural offices in Emeryville and Berkeley.
“I don’t like to waste things that I feel have value; it’s ‘mottainai’ and it wasn’t in my heart to just discard it,” Hayashida said. “And you know, the Buddhist idea is non-attachment … but I was really attached to it.”
He reached out last year to BCA Facilities Manager Bob Matsueda, who put him in touch with BCA Administrator Gayle Noguchi, who was delighted to accept the model. The donation was made in June 2022.
The model itself, which took about three months to design, scale and build, down to the historic columns of the structure, trusses and windows. It has a detachable roof and consists of three levels among other things, the classrooms, the library and the Hondo, down to the details of the Onaijin. The model even has the garden outside, complete with rocks and gravel. And of course, there are small figurines of people.
An outside professional model making company estimated the value at $75,000, but in order to conserve costs, it was decided to build it in-house and absorb the costs. The model is what’s called a quarter-scale miniature, meaning that each ¼ inch counts for 1 foot of actual physical length. The size of the model is 5-feet-7 by 4-feet, and comes apart in two sections in order to transport it. The actual Jodo Shinshu Center building is approximately 35,000 square feet.
The idea for the model came about more than 20 years ago when the BCA 21st Century Campaign was underway for the Jodo Shinshu Center and various program initiatives.
When the model was finally constructed, off it went — on the road shows — traveling and stopping at the National Council meetings, conferences, including stops in Southern California and Central California. It became the star centerpiece with storyboards describing the proposed Jodo Shinshu Center.
“It provided a 3D view of the project instead of just a two-dimensional set of plans,” Hayashida said. “You can show people photographs, but with the model, you can take it all apart and be able to see the interior spaces. It also grabbed the attention of the kids who thought it was really ‘cool.’ We had cars in the model’s parking lot too, and the kids would play with the cars.”
The idea of a Shin Buddhist Center had been on Hayashida’s mind ever since he was a student at the University of California, Berkeley, in the late 1960s. It was his senior project idea, a Buddhist Center in a campus like setting, complete with classrooms, offices, the BCA headquarters, and dorms.
His office was one of six architectural firms who competed for this project. The prospect of this project brought back all those memories in school, he said.
“That this model found a place, a final home, is so gratifying that BCA/JSC was willing to accept the model,” Hayashida said. “To have it here as a display, where people can actually see it and enjoy it, is kind of cool.”