An Architect Of Devotion

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You Can Feel It In The Studios She's Designed

Elizabeth Hardwick is the founder and principal of the New York City Architecture and Design Firm, Giants in the Dirt. She is the creative mind behind the design of Jivamukti Yoga Center on Lafayette, the original Laughing Lotus Yoga Center, the original Yoga People in Brooklyn, and the new Yoga High on the Lower East Side. As a devout student of Yoga, Elizabeth looks to Vedic and Tantric ideas of architecture and design to create harmony in contemporary spaces.

Sara Hubbs: How did you find yoga?

Elizabeth Hardwick: I went on a long trip to South India and then I was drawn to take up a yoga practice. Since I had been to India and visited many temples and religious complexes, it felt completely familiar.

SH: When did your paths as yogi and architect cross?

EH: Early in my practice, I began to investigate the geometry and thought behind the creation of Indian architecture, which struck me as quite harmonious. The Vedas and ancient Tantra include architecture and design. There is a long history where physics, philosophy, art, architecture, and a firm devotion to the Divine all meet. The Meenakshi Amman Temple complex in Madurai, India was a revelation to see in person, and embodies these multi-disciplinary concepts. In so many aspects it is constructed to use physical expression to lead the worshipper to an understanding of the non-physical reality, which is the main purpose of the Indian temple complex design.The North Indian city of Jaipur was also based on these principles, and in fact, the founders planned the city layout to follow a mandala design.

SH: When did you design your first yoga space?

EH: I was practicing at the Jivamukti on Ninth Street when a plaster area of the ceiling fell. That opened the door and I designed their other space on Lafayette. It was definitely a peak experience in my career because many things came together —a lifetime of practicing sacred geome