Scientology: Secrets of the Super Power Building

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The Voice has obtained hundreds of new renderings of Scientology's Super Power Building in Clearwater, Florida, as well as a comprehensive collection of its architectural drawings. [Go here for our primer: What is Scientology? Update: More renderings of the building's odder features. And we reveal part of how the Super Power Rundown itself works.]

A few renderings of Scientology's expensive new "mecca" were published as long ago as 2007, but that release, and a few since, have included only a few images of how the building's interiors will look once it is finished.

This new leak of material to the Voice is much more comprehensive, and includes detailed information down to the building's fasteners, fixtures, and signage, not to mention its major architectural schematics.

Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard devised the "Super Power Rundown" in 1978. He envisioned it as a series of counseling routines, some of which would be used to enhance the human senses with the use of elaborate and futuristic platforms and machines. Hubbard died in 1986, and it wasn't until the early 1990s that the rundown was performed on a few wealthy donors at Scientology's secretive "Int Base" in the California desert. Then, in November 1998, Hubbard's successor, church leader David Miscavige, broke ground on a massive new building project, "Flag Mecca," known commonly as the Super Power Building, where the new rundown would be housed. Thirteen years and $145 million in fundraising later, the building is thought to be largely completed, but it is still not open for business. On the following pages you'll get a detailed look at what's inside...


Exteriors and Ground Floor

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In November, the (formerly) St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) published a devastating expose about Scientology's obsession with fundraising. The series, "The Money Machine," appeared in four parts, and the final installment was about the Super Power Building and what a cash cow it has been since Miscavige broke ground.

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The exterior of the building has been completed for several years.
After the 1998 start, the exterior of the building went up, then construction halted in 2003. But St. Pete Times journalists Tom Tobin and Joe Childs revealed that fundraising for it never stopped.

Construction started again in 2009, but this year, the city of Clearwater hit Scientology with a fine of $413,500 for overruns and delays. It's believed that the building's interiors, designed by the Atlanta firm Gensler, are largely finished. When Tobin and Childs asked the church in November when the building might finally be opened, spokeswoman Karin Pouw replied, "Soon."

As we mentioned before, several renderings have been released in the press of Gensler's designs for the building's interiors, including some that show the fifth floor's futuristic "Perceptics" installations -- about which we'll have much more later in this story.

The files leaked to the Voice include those renderings and many more, as well as hundreds of architectural drawings that go into minute detail. For the most part, we're using those schematics to help us describe the facility, and we're not going to release drawings whole -- we're not going to open ourselves up to the claim that we're creating a security problem for an already paranoid organization.

However, we do want to provide some limited glimpses at that material -- call it fair use. For example, if you go into the building at its grand entrance on its northwest corner, then hook a left around the reception desk to a door that pulls open toward you, then make another left, you'll find yourself at the door to the Commodore's Office.

Every Scientology "org" is supposed to create an office for Hubbard, even 26 years after his death, in case the "old man" suddenly returns. Here's what his office looks like on one of the architectural drawings, just one small room in a city-block sized building...

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[Most images will enlarge if you click on them.] Here's the office in a couple of renderings. First, a view from left of the entrance, looking at Hubbard's desk to the right, and a ship model on the far wall...

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And here's another view, from behind Hubbard's chair...

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But let's back up and start from the outside. Several renderings of the exterior were made, including a few showing the Super Power Building lit up at night. Fancy!

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We also found that even the exterior landscaping was planned by Scientology's pricey architects, as we learned from renderings like this...

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So let's go inside. Here's the first place you'll encounter when you go in the grand entrance, the reception area leading to the building's big first floor "Atrium." On the far side is the Atrium itself. To the left of that entrance is a display of the "Materials Guide Chart" -- a schematic of all the Hubbard books and other materials church members are expected to purchase and learn during their careers as they move up "The Bridge to Total Freedom," which has its own schematic on the right side of the Atrium passageway...

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Here's another view from the reception area, looking to the left and revealing another wall display, "Organizations Around the World." (Behind that display is the door -- not visible in this view -- which leads to the Commodore's Office which we mentioned before)...

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Let's head on into the Atrium itself, due south of the reception area. Quite a few of L. Ron Hubbard's basic Dianetics and Scientology concepts are represented in sculpture and other displays here. The tall, ribbon-like structure to the left is meant to evoke the "Tone Scale," which Hubbard invented (or discovered, depending on how you feel about it) and is used to describe a person's emotional state -- the higher you go, the better off you are. Other sculptures evoke Hubbard's "dynamics" -- his concept of different contexts in which we try to survive (self, family, group, mankind, animals and plants, physical universe, spirit, infinity)...

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Let's move further in and then turn back, looking north at the entrance where we came in. The Tone Scale is now on our right, and it looks to me that sculptures representing the fourth and fifth dynamics -- mankind and animals -- are to the left...

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And now a look from above, showing the entire Atrium...

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A look out the Atrium's western windows, with sculptures representing dynamics one through four visible...

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And what would an Atrium be without a cafe?

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Now let's go through some doors just north of the Atrium cafe and then hook a right, taking us into...the big chapel!

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The real stuff of Scientology involves members working individually with auditors or on their own. But sensitive to public perception, orgs put on "Sunday Services" with the help of "volunteer ministers." Chuck Beatty, a former Sea Org member and something of an unofficial church historian, tells me that the ministers choose from a standard set of "sermons" -- about 90 of them.

"It's just a show, but some people go on Sunday for the show," he says. Weddings are also held in the chapel. Here's another view, with a better look at some of that timeless Hubbard wisdom etched on the windows: One of them appears to read, "In the beginning and forever is the decision and the decision is TO BE."

Major.

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Now let's head back up to the north end of the building. Just outside the Commodore's office we showed you before, there's this small foyer, dedicated to the Sea Organization, Scientology's hardcore elite of workers who sign billion-year contracts and agree to work for the church, lifetime after lifetime, for about $50 a week. In this view you can see a tribute to the yacht Apollo from which Hubbard ran Scientology while plying the Mediterranean in the late 1960s and early 1970s. (Each Friday, we publish excerpts from the dispatches that Hubbard produced during this time.)

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Looking back from the opposite end of the room, there's a tribute to Scientology's private cruise ship, the Freewinds, which was the subject of a series of stories recently about a young woman, Valeska Paris, who says she was held on the vessel against her will from 1996 to 2007.

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And there's also this recreation of a deck on the Apollo, complete with lifeboat and a jovial photo of the Commodore himself...

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Now let's head through a doorway and down a hall to the east. We'll pass by a stairway, and then on our left we come to Flag Mecca's boardroom...

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Next to the boardroom is a public entrance and reception room. According to an architectural drawing, it includes a listing of job openings -- score!

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Now let's head south, to one of many large course rooms on this level. (Is the sheer scale of this building starting to hit you yet?) This one has a couple of different labels, Division 6B Theory Room, and Public Courses Practical, but as long as superhuman training is going on, does the name matter?

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Moving back a little west, we reach a place where the real action happens. These are small offices for registrars -- the true stars of Scientology, who work day and night to pry cash out of their fellow church members...

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Now that we've had that whiff of money, let's head upstairs!



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