From Sweat to Sanctuary in 30 Hours

Photo courtesy of Leigh Paterson/CTV

The visiting team’s locker room at the Verizon Center is a dull one- gray, boring, and otherwise uninviting. However, it was recently transformed into temporary quarters for the Dalai Lama’s visit, according to CTV Washington:

And while His Holiness addressed the masses, touching on everything from marriage advice to violence in the 21st century, Canadian designer Kevin Fitzsimons was working behind the scenes nearby.

“This is the NHL players’ locker room. This is what I was given for His Holiness’s residences,” Fitzsimons said as he pointed to a “before” photo of the cement-grey room. “So I had to do a living room, dining room, a room for his monks, a bathroom. He eats here, rests here, has private meetings here.”

The Dalai Lama was in Washington to perform an important Buddhist ritual, a complex 10-day ceremony called the Kalachakra, most of which takes place at the Verizon Center, an arena usually used for hockey games and rock concerts. Fitzsimons, charged with transforming the space into His Holiness’s private daytime quarters, had just 30 hours to do the job.

“We put in walls, crown molding, lights, wainscoting, carpet,” he said. “We put in everything you can imagine.”

Fitzsimons also noted that “it smelled like sweat when we first got in there,” which is the understatement of the year. Anyone who’s been in or near a hockey locker room knows that pungent aroma well. Still, it’s an amazing feat to turn an institutional, smelly room into a haven for His Holiness in such a short amount of time.

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