Construction on the Lodge’s Huxley meeting room, built upon the foundation of the original Huxley and elevated to a new second floor, is completed this month in time for its namesake’s July birthday. Aldous Huxley was a seminal inspiration to Esalen co-founders Dick Price and Michael Murphy; his belief in “human potentialities” infused the very foundation of Esalen. The writer and philosopher, known for such works as A Brave New World and The Doors of Perception, passed away in 1963.
Jeff Kripal, chair of Esalen’s Board of Trustees and author of Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion, writes of Huxley’s Esalen connection: “…his call for an institution that could teach the ‘nonverbal humanities’ and the development of the ‘human potentialities’ functioned as the working mission statement of early Esalen.”
The new Huxley meeting room has been increased in size by 40 percent to accommodate large groups while still retaining similar aesthetics of the original gathering place for many of Esalen’s early teachers. Beams and wood ceilings, expansive windows to the south overlooking the Pacific, and intentionally placed westside porthole windows capturing light at specific times of the year greet visitors to Huxley. East-facing windows frame beautiful mountaintop views. A new cushioned bamboo floor supports the unique needs of movement class participants, with geothermal pipes providing additional heating.
“Through the incorporation of ecological-design elements and sacred geometric principles, we have conscientiously designed a meeting room of the future,” says Ian-Michael Hebert, property development manager. “We have built in numerous architectural features that honor the majesty of Big Sur and celestial events at this unique location on the globe. We reused portions of the old Huxley meeting room, repurposed wood from ancient redwoods, and aligned porthole windows with the Equinox and Solstice sunsets, as well as solar noon.”
Elements of the original Huxley meeting room can be found throughout the Lodge, including the meeting room door which is now installed on the first floor entrance to the café/bar and the frames of the meeting room windows which now sit above the bar.
Regular workshops in Huxley will begin in August.
Photos top to bottom: Tom Beil of Arkin Tilt Architects; Daniel Bianchetta; Tom Beil; Daniel Bianchetta