Retreat Center Construction Project

Latest Updates and Photos


Over the years, members of our community have frequently spoken about how retreat accommodation privacy better supports deeper practice and a sense of refuge. In response, a major building project is nearing completion at our Retreat Center.

Just after Labor Day 2012, crews arrived to begin work. In mid-June 2013, the new dormitory was completed along with a connector linking it to the Annex and Catskills accommodations. After the new dormitory opened, we closed the Catskills dormitory in order to convert all of its rooms into singles.

Now with the new dormitory open, every IMS retreatant is able to stay in a single room. Find out more about our vision and plans.


September 2013  On Wednesday, September 11, IMS held a ceremony to honor the construction project’s completion

Over 140 retreatants, teachers, staff, friends and supporters were welcomed by Executive Director Linda Spink.

The date of the ceremony coincided with the first full day of this year’s Three-Month Retreat. For the first time in IMS’s history, approximately a third of the course participants are people of color.

Rosemary Blake, IMS’s Board President, spoke movingly about the joy on seeing the special diversity of this year’s Three-Month Retreat. She thanked everyone whose efforts are now bearing fruit, from those who first seeded the idea for a group of people of color to sit this course, to friends and supporters who made it financially possible for so many retreatants of color to undertake longer-term practice.

Rosemary Blake

Joseph Goldstein outlined the importance of accommodation privacy for inspiring retreat practice. 

Joseph Goldstein

Bhante Buddharakkhita, part of the teaching team for Part 1 of this year’s Three-Month course, then led the formal blessing ritual, including a circumambulation of Bodhi House, the new dorm.

(Above and below) Bhante Buddharakkhita blesses the new construction.

The ceremony closed with a metta meditation, wishing all beings well, offered by Sky Dawson, Teacher-in-Residence at the Forest Refuge.

Sky Dawson

The informal sitting area on the second floor of Bodhi House.

One of the simply furnished, peaceful Karuna House bedrooms.

August 2013 – The Catskills dormitory has seen many changes over the last month. The rooms have been framed, painted, and the hardwood flooring is being laid. We are still on track for the 1st and 2nd floor to be ready for the opening of the Three-Month Retreat in September.

On the first floor, a bathtub has been installed to help ease achey joints.

A renovated room with new hardwood flooring.

A crane hoists bundles of plywood and shingles for the new Catskills roof.

The bridge that formerly connected the Catskills and Annex dormitories has been taken down – access is now through the connector.

July 2013  The new dormitory is now open, and some participants in each of the last few retreats have been housed there. They’ve given enthusiastic feedback, letting us know they find it a comfortable, beautiful and supportive environment for time on retreat. The Catskills dormitory now closed as extensive renovations are underway. 

A single room in the new dormitory – all accommodations are now singles!

On the first floor of the Catskills dormitory, the bedrooms on the east side are being modified to be accessible for individuals with mobility concerns. 

Before and after: the linen closet on the second floor has been removed, revealing a hidden window. This space will soon become a dorm room.

The bridge that formerly connected the Catskills and Annex dormitories will soon come down. The crews have boarded up the end that used to connect to the Annex in preparation.

June 2013 – We are quickly approaching the opening of the new dormitory! All finishing touches are in place. Over the next week, beds will be moved into the new rooms in time for this year’s People of Color Retreat, which starts June 15.

The new dormitory stands ready for its first occupants. The surrounding grounds will soon be seeded and landscaped.

The informal sitting area now has a hardwood floor  and a beautiful view of the IMS grounds.

Timber from trees removed from the site in preparation for construction have been transformed into common space window sills, half-wall caps and stair treads throughout the connector and dorm.

These rocks will become part of the landscaping in front of the connector.

May 2013 – Many finishing touches to the exterior and the interior of the new dormitory are in place. Over the next few weeks, the construction crew will continue to paint the exterior, install staircases and move furniture into place.

Here’s the new dormitory after its first coat of paint.

Over the last few weeks, the construction crew has been at work on replacing the retaining wall that runs along parallel to the Catskills. After the concrete was poured, earth was poured back into place.

The stone masons have built a well-crafted stone wall and set of granite steps between the new dormitory and the Annex porch (out of sight on left). 

In the new dormitory, flooring and furniture have been installed in most rooms. This view shows the wardrobe on the left and the sink and closet on the right. The bed will be placed on the left. 

April 2013 – Both the exterior and the interior of the new dormitory and connector continue to move closer to completion. All rooms and hallways have a first coat of paint. On the outside, the crew are almost finished installing the clapboards. In addition, lighting fixtures and fire-safe exterior doors are starting to be put into place.

A mini-roof supported by chains protects this exterior door on the east side of the connector.

In the interior of the connector, the first coat of paint is done, and next comes the flooring. A heating element can be seen on the right.

The concrete-compound clapboards are currently being installed on the new dormitory. Later, the grey will be painted a Georgian-Red.

Here’s the latest view from the top of the stairtower overlooking the new dormitory.

March 2013 –  To prepare for the installation of clapboard siding, strapping has been nailed to the exterior walls of the new dormitory. In addition, cedar sills, mahoghany side casings and pine top casings are now in place around the windows. The building passed an airtightness test with flying colors – even before sheetrocking and plastering had been completed. This is good news for energy efficency!

Prep for clapboarding nears completion.

The rooms in the new dormitory have been completely drywalled and are beginning to be painted. IMS Facilities staff have been assisting the construction crew by cleaning surfaces of dust in preparation for painting.

A west-facing single room, freshly painted.

The informal sitting area overlooking the grounds on the second floor.

This view is from the top of the stair tower that will connect all three floors of the soon-to-be renovated Catskills dormitory. The new dormitory is visible through the window.

A staff member offered lovingkindness for future retreatants.

February 2013 – To document the exterior work to date, we’ve put together a short timelapse video covering September 2012 through January 2013. Watch the building take shape before your eyes!

At this point, exterior work is on hold through the rest of the winter. In spring when the weather is warm enough, the siding for the new dormitory, connector and Catskills stair tower will be added.

This recent panorama shows much of the exterior work completed, including a covered entry (bottom R) for the connector. The black coating applied to all outside walls stops air and moisture from penetrating the building envelope, resulting in greater heat efficiency and dampness prevention.

Over the last month, the interior of the new dormitory has seen many developments. Most of the framing for individual rooms has now been completed, and the soundproofing and drywall processes have begun. Electrical work has continued, and various crews have been installing plumbing, heating and ventilation systems for both floors. A sprinkler system and some bathroom fixtures have also been put in place.

The framing for most of the rooms is complete.

Soundproofing and drywall processes are underway.

On the second floor, there will be a small lounge overlooking the grounds.

January 2013  The exterior of the new Retreat Center dormitory is closer to completion! By the the start of 2013, the construction crew had begun installing windows and are soon to work on the interior framing.

The windows were delivered and stored temporarily in the first floor of the building for protection from the elements.

The first floor windows were installed at the beginning of January.

This view shows the interior of the second floor with many windows now in place.

December 2012 – Over the last month, the new Retreat Center dormitory went through dramatic changes. The framing of the second floor was completed, and when the roof trusses were set in place, the overall dimensions of the building became clear.

Trusses are lifted into position, creating the support work for the roof of the new dormitory.

In accordance with an old builders’ tradition, after the basic structure of the roof was completed, a small spruce was positioned at the peak to mark this significant point in the building’s progress.

This view of the new dormitory was taken from the roof of the Retreat Center meditation hall.

A view from the interior looking up into the framing of the second floor and roof.

November 2012 – Construction proceeds apace! In recent weeks, foundations for the new dormitory were put in and insulated, utility lines were installed, and sheathing put up for the connector and Catskills stair tower. By mid-November, framing for the new dormitory was underway and walls were going up.

The connector and stair tower.

This view from the second floor of the Catskills shows the framing for the first floor of the new dormitory. 

This perspective shows how the new dormitory (L) and connector are situated in relation to existing Retreat Center accommodations.

October 2012 – The work on the new dormitory and the adjoining connector progresses steadily. 

In the area behind the Catskills, the ground level was raised to provide smooth access to the Annex and the connector, and a sidewalk installed. The newly seeded topsoil greened up quickly.

In September, this is how the area at the end of the Catskills looked as the work got underway.

Just a few weeks later, the under-structure of the connector that will join the three dormitories was in place. This view shows how it extends along the end of the Annex to the point where it will eventually join the new building. Beyond the wooden framing, the area that has been excavated for the foundation of the new building is visible.

Then in early October, framing for the connector walls went up. Quite a dramatic change in one month!

September 2012 – Construction has begun! To honor this milestone, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 9 on the site of the new dormitory. Its purpose was to send well wishes to the many beings (seen and unseen) who are associated with or affected by this project. 

The visual centerpiece for the ceremony was a beautiful dhammacakka mandala. This wheel of flower petals symbolizes the Buddha’s teachings of awakening and liberation.

Over a hundred people, including teachers, Three-Month Retreat participants, staff and IMS friends, gathered around the mandala. Words of gratitude were expressed for all who have committed to this endeavor in a variety of ways – those who envisioned and planned it, those who offered their resources and those now involved in the construction.

IMS teachers Greg Scharf (R) and Susan O’Brien (L) led the gathering in a Metta (lovingkindness) chant.

IMS co-founder Joseph Goldstein prepares to dig the ceremonial first scoop of earth.

The ceremony concluded with the tossing of flower petals from the mandala into the new dormitory’s footprint.

May 2012 – Currently, some preparations are underway between retreats.

Building up the foundation for a new access road on Retreat Center grounds. This will serve for dropping off luggage at the new dorm and Annex, as well as for delivery and emergency vehicles.
Preparing the Annex for the covered walkway that will connect all three dorms to the rest of the Retreat Center facility.

March 2012 – Our major fundraising effort is over! We have reached our goal of $2,350,000 to construct a new Retreat Center dormitory and to renovate the Catskills. Heartfelt thanks to all in our community who generously supported our vision.

Plans are on schedule to break ground in early September and to complete the entire project by mid-2013. Site surveying was undertaken in late 2011, a preliminary yet thorough cost estimate was recently finished and architectural and engineering specifications are being finalized.

October 2011 – To prepare the site of the new dormitory, the secondary parking lot near the Annex has been discontinued. To compensate, the main parking area along Pleasant Street was recently extended.

A view of the parking lot, looking down toward the Reflection Pond.

August 2011 – Thanks to the wonderful generosity of IMS’s friends and supporters, we crossed the $2,000,000 threshold towards our $2,350,000 goal to construct a new Retreat Center dormitory and to renovate the ‘Catskills’ accommodation wing.

April 2011 – During last spring’s Monastic Retreat, Ajahn Sucitto conducted a ceremony of blessing and gratitude for some trees that needed to be removed to make way for the new dormitory. In order to utilize the timber from them in the construction project, they were taken down in September so that the lumber can be milled and dried in time.

Ajahn Sucitto (C), Ajahn Jayanto (L) and Ayya Medhanandi Bhikkhuni (R) began the ceremony with chanting.

Ajahn Sucitto blesses one of the trees. 

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