BAPS Hindu American Religious Center

Project Profile: BAPS Hindu American Religious Center

Firm name: Paulus, Sokolowski & Sartor

Project building name and location: BAPS Hindu American Religious Center, Robbinsville, N.J.

Type of building and type of project: Religious Center, New Construction

Project completion date and project duration: 2016

Engineering challenges and solutions:


BAPS is a socio-spiritual Hindu organization established in 1907 in India. Today, BAPS has over a million followers and it reaches out far and wide to address the spiritual, moral and social challenges and issues throughout the world. BAPS strives to care for the world by caring for societies, families and individuals. Its universal work through a worldwide network of over 3,300 centers, including over 700 temples worldwide, has received many international awards and affiliation with the United Nations.

As part of its ongoing dedication towards serving the society, BAPS is constructing a new temple in Robbinsville, New Jersey, that will also serve as a center for community activities. The temple complex is being constructed in accordance with ancient Hindu scriptures, using white marble and featuring intricate carvings and architectural majesty. Construction on the first two phases of the five-phase, multi-use Hindu American Religious Center (HARC) located on 33-acres in Robbinsville, NJ began in September 2010 and is currently under way. The project is due for completion 2016, at which time it will total 262,000 sq. ft. Upon completion, the complex will include a cultural center, a prayer hall, a youth activity center, meeting rooms, classrooms, dormitories, dining areas, facilities for indoor sports and arts & crafts, a welcome center and the Akshardham Mahamandir (Main Temple). PS&S has been working on the project since mid-2009.

The design for the first two phases of the project has been completed and PS&S is currently assisting with construction administration services for these phases. Commencement of design services for subsequent phases of the project is anticipated in the near future. Design of the complex caters to the religious requirements while incorporating the necessary MEP services for adequate functioning of the facility and providing comfort conditions for the occupants. The project team representatives from BAPS include local professional engineers and a design team based in India, who provided regular review comments to the PS&S team during the design of the first two phases. These team members remain actively involved in all design and decision making aspects of the project. Coordinating input from various client team members (both local and remote) was challenging at the beginning of the design phase, however, a Centric web-based system was set up which made the project management features very interactive and simple to work with. Energy conservation and flexible operation of the MEP systems was the primary focus of the MEP design team. The design process was initiated by performing an energy analysis utilizing Trane Trace software to compare several HVAC systems for the complex, such as central cooling & heating (water-cooled & air-cooled systems) and dedicated rooftop units (air-cooled & evaporative cooled). Operating schedules for various building functions were discussed with the client and incorporated into the software, along with preliminary construction cost estimates. Based on the building functions, initial capital costs, payback analysis and maintenance requirements for the systems, providing air-cooled unitary systems for the spaces was determined to be the best option for the complex.

The HVAC design for the phases has been configured so that different areas within the building are equipped with their own dedicated rooftop units. Given that different areas of the buildings have different occupancy schedules, such arrangement of HVAC systems will provide the necessary setback for unoccupied spaces, thereby providing energy efficiency towards the operation of the systems. Hot water under-floor radiant heating has been provided for floor warming, since several areas of the complex are commuted barefoot by members. Condensing boilers will be installed for generating hot water and the operating temperatures have been selected so these boilers can provide in excess of 95% thermal efficiency during extended operating period. All systems shall be integrated into a central BACnet-based Building Automation System (BAS), which will control the operation of all systems with the intent of achieving maximum energy efficiency.

In addition, occupants shall also be able to control these systems, giving them operational flexibility. Phase I of the campus comprises three large assembly spaces, where occupancy can vary from a few people to a few thousand people. Providing conditioning to these spaces in an efficient manner and in accordance with the International Mechanical Code was prudent. Hence, three dedicated rooftop units have been designed – one for each space, and Demand Control Ventilation was incorporated into the design. During low occupancy conditions, only minimum outside air is provided to the space and this outside air quantity increases with the increase of occupancy, based on carbon dioxide levels monitored in the spaces. The building design includes dramatic changes in ceiling elevations and roof heights, with limited space to place equipment, and large open assembly areas that have no structural columns on the interior of the spaces.

Coordinating with diverse architectural & structural features was streamlined by the use of an integrated design approach and the utilization of Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology, including Navisworks and REVIT. The use of this software enabled the design team to work on a single real-time building model, whereby all building features and utilities are viewed by the entire design team working on the project, and clash detection was regularly implemented through the design process. Phase II of the project includes a Prayer Hall, which is a hand carved solid marble temple, the design of which is based on a temple presently in India. While the temple in India is not equipped with a mechanical system, this design however requires air conditioning to be provided into the space. To keep with the traditional aesthetics of the original temple, the project required the incorporation of the air distribution system to be minimized.

This was addressed with the creation of an air delivery system within the structural system of the temple and to provide custom stone grilles and wall plenums for return air. The Electrical design for the project comprises 12.5kV primary service distributed to pad-mounted transformers outside each phase. A common emergency generator has been designed for Phases I & II of the project for emergency lighting and critical power requirements. PS&S coordinated environmental permitting for the duct banks and electrical manholes designed for site cabling because of wetlands barrier issues. Lighting controls for the Phase I assembly areas, which also includes a performance stage, is a state-of-the-art dimming system. Power requirements for this system along with the security and audio-visual systems were coordinated with respective team members and incorporated into the design. All power and controls wiring in the Prayer Hall is designed to be concealed, and this was done by the use of Revitsoftware, which made the architectural features of the Prayer Hall structure more evident, thereby making it possible to conceal the utilities. The site lighting incorporates wireless computerized control for majority individual fixtures to provide switching control capability to the operators, in addition to photocell controls for these lights.

Plumbing design includes separate water & sanitary mains for each phase, with dedicated hot water heaters for the facilities. The design for the temple facilities required several different types of fixtures, such as hand sinks and water closets, including a floor-level eastern style toilet, some of these been specified by the India design team. PS&S coordinated the design and utilities’ requirements for BAPS specified equipment and incorporated these requirements into the design documents. Fire protection for the building includes a dedicated fire water main into each phase of the project. Recent hydrant flow test results were obtained and calculations were performed with the intent of eliminating the requirement of fire pumps.

The design for the wet sprinkler system for the phases has been developed without the need of fire pumps, thereby reducing initial, operational and maintenance costs for the project. With the use of PS&S’ open dialogue between design departments and use of advanced technology, the production of design documents and construction of the BAPS HARC has been streamlined greatly compared to a traditional design approach.


Click Here to View More Project Profiles