As this desert metropolis procreates, populates, and diversifies, we can all witness and engage with the countless contributions from its many inhabitants. Each parcel of this valley gains value by our own personal embodiment. This becomes clear as we ﬁnd ourselves utilizing public and private lots and facilities such as concert halls, libraries, recreation centers, and community gardens—maybe even more so in small businesses like restaurants and cafes, ﬂower shops, boutiques, art galleries, and yoga studios.
In acknowledgment of these countless architectural contributions, we discovered the development of a most prized four-acre lot in lower Millcreek. The property has been under ownership since 2011 by the very same Krishna devotees that brought to us the stunning Lotus Temple in Spanish Fork (completed in 1996). Though at the time of its purchase, existing structures on the land in Millcreek were already operational, a proper place of worship was still underway. Today, atypical white bulbous domes adorned with golden ornaments protruding above the canopy of the trees might catch your eye as you make your way down 9th east through this sleepy segment of town.
Although, few may be curious enough to venture any farther down this dead-end street and marvel at the mystery which lie therein...
In August of 2019, The Sri Sri Radha Govinda Temple was completed, designed by Vaibhavi Devi Dasi. Born 1946 Cheshire, England, Vai acquired a degree in Fine Arts from the University of London by the age of 21. As a young art instructor in England, world travel was a mandatory rite of passage. Her global venturing would lead her to discover her spiritual path in the Krishna movement and, ultimately, her life companion, Caru. The two would land in the foothills of the Wasatch Range in Utah County in 1982 and begin their work with a newly purchased AM radio station as their podium.
“I did not graduate in architecture. I majored in painting, but I have an engineering talent and ﬁnd it very natural to build artistically”.
Confessedly, her primary architectural inspiration was the Kusum Sarovar (Lotus on the Lake) in Vrindavan, Rajasthan (Krishna’s birthplace). For this reason, the domes of her designs are reminiscent of lotus petals. “As we decorate Millcreek you will see more paintings and lotus images,” she assures us.
Once Vai’s ideas were conveyed to the community, the plans were set into motion. “I did the designs and always work with a fabulous structural engineer from Utah County who donates his valuable time. Dynamic Structures Inc. helped with the structure for the Spanish Fork Temple, as well as Millcreek, and Vai brought in friends from Blue Steel Architecture, LLC to help with codes and construction. When asked if Caru was granted any creative input, she simply replies, “I always work with Caru. He is very perceptive. He was the one who originally presented the idea for the style.”
7,000 sq. ft. of pristine white marble tile lines the temple ﬂoor in its entirety.
“The deities face east, in the center, the place of Brahmasthana (center of stillness). The main dome covers the deities, other domes are decorative in the Rajput style,” Vai explains. Vaulted ceilings of the spacious reception hall provide open meeting space and free light passage to the temple room or charming boutique, lavishly laced with colorful garments, mindful books, and quintessential sanctuary needs.
The structure is, at its core, designed to welcome, to provide for the surrounding community. “The property comprises four acres: one acre for permaculture home-grown organic food, and two acres playing ﬁeld kept clear for events, festivals etc.” Quaint, separate living quarters are provided for volunteers and devotees, and the existing structure contains and auditorium, private yoga rooms, a childcare facility, and a community kitchen. Says Vai, “As funds permit, we shall install a full commercial kitchen to provide tasty vegetarian dishes to the public as in our cultural tradition.”