His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj performed the Shilanyas Vidhi (Foundation-Stone Laying Ceremony) of the new traditional Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in Houston on September 3, 2000. Since then, the devotees of BAPS Southwest region have come together to fulfill the vision of their guru by planning the construction of the mandir. To mark the beginning of construction of this wonderful splendor in stone and marble, approximately 700 devotees preformed a mahapuja on March 3, 2002 in the presence of pujya santo. At the conclusion of the mahapuja the santo along with Harikrishna Maharaj and the devotees went to the site of the new Mandir and performed pujan of the construction equipment. The commissioner of Fort Bend County Mr. Grady Prestage, members of the Engineering and Construction team and friends and well wishers of BAPS were also present on this auspicious occasion.
One of the unique features of the foundation and the Mandir as a whole is that no steel or metal will be used in any part of its structure. This unique feature along with a special concrete mix for the foundation and use of marble and stone for the Mandir will help extend the life span of the Mandir to over 1000 years. The excavation and preparatory work for this historic project commenced on March 25, 2002. After a number of soil tests the engineering and construction team decided to excavate the soil in and around the foundation area and replace it with special soil. After extensive tests, Dr. P.K. Mehta, a material expert and authority in the area of the foundation mix design along with Dr. Shondeep Sarkar of Sarkar & Associates, Maverick Engineering and the BAPS Development team worked closely together for several months to develop an optimized special concrete mix for the foundation.
On May 9, 2002, work on the piers started and it was completed on the June 20, 2002. A total of 244 piers will support the foundation raft. The piers are 30 ft. deep with diameters ranging from 30 inches to 54 inches. The foundation raft is 6 feet. thick in the Grabhgruh (Main Shrine) area and 5 feet thick in the rest of the temple area. The concrete pour for the foundation is divided into seven phases and currently phase 4 has been completed. Foundation work is scheduled to be completed by the end of August 2002 and when completed the total elevation of the foundation will be 11 ft. Special care has been taken to remove even the smallest metal part like nails from the Mandir area using magnets. Quality control of the concrete mix by taking samples for lab tests has been performed at every phase of the foundation work.
- First pour of a 3-foot thickness in the Grabhgruh area was completed on June 18, 2002. Total concrete poured was 600 cu.yds.
- Second pour of 1-foot thickness in the Garbhgruh area was completed on June 25, 2002. Total concrete poured was 200 cu.yds.
- Third pour of 1-foot thickness around the Grabhgruh area was completed on July 2, 2002. Total concrete poured was 400 cu.yds.
- Fourth pour of 3-foot thickness for entire temple area was completed on July 13, 2002. Total concrete poured was 1600 cu.yds.