ITHACA, N.Y. — One of Ithaca’s more unusual assets will be expanding its presence this summer. Namgyal Monastery will be adding dorms and apartments at its Tibet Drive home in the Town of Ithaca.

According to a filing with the county, the dorms will be designed to house 40 students, and the apartments, which are a separate building, will host 18 beds. Tompkins Trust Company is lending Namgyal $500,000 in a construction loan to finance the build-out.

The units will be modular in nature. The supplier/designer is Whitley Manufacturing of Indiana, which specializes in unique modular unit creations, and the contractor is ModSpace, a modular construction specialist with offices throughout North America. Modular units are mostly built in the controlled climate of a factory, and the components are 80% finished by the time they are transported and laid onto the foundation or other modular sections. As a result, the time from project start to completion can be much faster – in this case, the dorms and apartments are expected to be finished before October 1st.

Namgyal of Ithaca serves as the North American Seat of the Namgyal Monastery currently located in India, which is the personal monastery of the 14th Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists. Among the services Namgyal provides to the Tibetan Buddhist community is the Namgyal Insitute of Buddhist Studies, its theological seminary at Dü Khor Choe Ling. The monastery is in the midst of a multi-phased plan for dormitories, private retreat rooms for monks, a 120-seat shrine room, classrooms, and community spaces. Three of the five wings have been completed; the mirrored one-story sections at the top center and bottom right of the rendering are the new wings to be built.

Last year, Namgyal Ithaca was selected to be the site of the 14th Dalai Lama’s Library and Museum, further raising the profile of the local institution among the international Buddhist community. The plan for the library and museum will be a separate project for the 28-acre property, and is expected to be as large or larger than DKCL’s five-building complex, which will total about 13,000 square feet when all of the structures are completed.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at