The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya in Colorado’s Shambhala Mountain Center recently received an eye-catching exterior restoration

Rising among wooded Colorado hillsides, The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya crowns a meadow at the upper end of Shambhala Mountain Center’s main valley. Standing 108 feet tall, it is one of the most significant examples of sacred Buddhist architecture in North America.

Designed to last 1,000 years, The Great Stupa was built with the most advanced materials available to help it withstand the harsh climate at the elevated mountain site. Restoring the dramatic gateways with a high-performance protective coating was overdue, as the paint on the intricately ornamented arches and support columns was significantly faded, chipping, and flaking in the 11 years since its last paint job. Supporters of The Great Stupa wanted a rejuvenated look to radiate richness for a very long time.

Painting the many different ornamental shapes was a very slow process due to the precision required and the team’s high standards of perfection.

Vibrancy and colour were important considerations in the coating selection, says Joshua Mulder, director of art and design for the restoration. “We wanted to make the gateways look as beautiful as we could and for the rejuvenated look to radiate brightness and richness for a very long time.”

APV Engineered Coatings custom-matched 15 rich and vibrant colors for the project, which were delicately applied to the detailed surface lined with gold leaf. Now, the bold and colorful exterior is ready for a long life in the extreme environmental conditions of the Rocky Mountains.

While NeverFade® Coatings typically are applied by manufacturer-approved or certified contractors, in this instance, The Great Stupa assembled a team of volunteers to handle the job. Prior to applying the topcoat, workers pressure- cleaned the concrete substrate and made sure no chalking was left on the surface. Over the course of a week, the painting crew reached a preliminary goal of restoring one gateway and about 25 percent of a second gateway.

Project manager Bob King explained that the painting was a very slow process due to the precision required and the team’s high standards of perfection. “We were applying the coating with very small brushes and there were a lot of cut-ins, multiple colours to work with, and many different ornamental shapes,” he says.

“We were impressed with the coating system’s extreme weatherability and extended service life performance, which is backed up with a 15-year product and labour warranty against colour fading,” says Richard Assaly, lead painter for the project. “It was the ideal solution to meet the challenging goals of the restoration work.”