The Tampa Bay Times broke the news Friday night: Finally, after almost 15 years since it first broke ground, Scientology’s “Super Power Building” is set to open on Sunday, October 6.
On Friday the Church of Scientology approached the Clearwater, Florida city council to obtain permits for a grand opening celebration on that date.
Former top Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder, at his blog, has been reporting that church members were being told that the Super Power building — formally known as the “Flag Building” after dropping its previous name, “Flag Mecca” — would be opening about a month before the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) gala. And sure enough, the IAS gala (usually held in England in October) has been scheduled for the weekend of November 8-9 and will be held in a giant permanent tent in Clearwater that is being shipped over from the UK.
It’s a huge set of changes happening suddenly for a church that usually plans things far in advance, and we’re so excited we can hardly stand it!
In January 2012, at the Village Voice, we published what is still the only comprehensive release of architectural renderings for all seven floors of the Super Power Building. We’ll show you some of those again, but we also can reveal that someone who worked for the architectural firm that planned and built the edifice contacted us recently and told us that the structure has been finished and ready to occupy since early in 2011.
So what’s taken so long for it to open? Luis and Rocio Garcia, in a federal fraud lawsuit they filed in January, claimed that the building was purposely being kept from opening because it was such a great cash cow for the church. As the Tampa Bay Times points out, some $145 million has been raised from church members to build the thing, but it’s been assessed at only about $80 million. The Garcias, in their lawsuit, accused Scientology of delaying the opening because it could raise so much money as long as it never opened.
Has the Garcia lawsuit put so much pressure on Scientology leader David Miscavige that he finally had to open the city-block sized white elephant? As the Times points out, it’s taken so long to complete, it recently racked up huge fines that the church was forced to pay…
Construction of the building, begun in 1998, dragged for years without explanation, eventually drawing daily fines from the city for missing deadlines. In 2011, the church paid $413,500 in fines to Clearwater. When criticized for the slow pace, church spokeswoman Karin Pouw said the time line was short compared to “the world’s religious cathedrals.”
Er, a world cathedral. Right. Well, back in 2012, we couldn’t help marvel at the special 5th floor of the planned building, where the “perceptics” apparatuses were going to be located, and the promised “Super Power Rundown” was going to be delivered. Besides the aerotrim (human gyroscope), seen in the image above which has been printed far and wide, we revealed some of the other weird contraptions that were on tap for wealthy Scientologists who wanted to gain superhuman abilities. There was the “oiliness table,” for example, a favorite of our readers…
We also showed plans for a “pain station,” “smell wall,” “infinite pit,” “endocrine states,” and other weird devices. But, before you assume that wealthy church members are going to have an experience that “would make any science fiction buff marvel” (said the Times, quoting fundraising language) Dan Koon, a former Scientologist who helped develop the Super Power processes based on instructions from Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in the late 1970s, told us last year that the special devices might not even be part of the expensive package.
Here’s what Koon told us about these oversold items more than a year ago…
“The thing about this that [David Miscavige] will never promote while milking parishioners out of further big bucks is that very, very few of these items will ever be used,” he tells me. The reason, he explains, is that according to the Super Power Rundown, it’s only when an auditor perceives a certain problem with a subject’s progression (a reading on an e-meter) that a situation will need solving on a perceptics apparatus.
“In other words, it will probably be a cold day in hell when something like the endocrine states reads, thus necessitating the use of that egg-shaped room. In fact, as I recall, when we piloted Super Power on a dozen or more people at the Int Base, the only perceptics that read were the usual suspects: sight, hearing, smell, etc,” Koon says. “Miscavige is going to hype the shit out of Super Power and PR it as the next big thing that all Scientologists must do, which is complete crap. Hubbard developed Super Power to help staff members become more effective on their jobs.”
Speaking of hype, just last month Koon attempted to take the wind out of Miscavige’s sails by publishing, with the help of other independent Scientologists, the entire Super Power process as he remembered it. The “secrets” of the Super Power rundowns turned out to be exceedingly dull and repetitive (like most Scientology processing).
So a set of processes that turn out to be very basic, not esoteric, and a set of apparatuses that won’t really come into play: Is that why Miscavige has kept the Super Power building largely under wraps for so long? Because it’s one big bait-and-switch? Well, even if Super Power itself is a bust, the building is a fabulous monument to Scientology excess. Let’s go through some of the images as we await the big October 6 street party!
Let’s start with the outside. Here’s a view if you were looking from the Fort Harrison Hotel, Scientology’s most holy site (until October 6!) with the air bridge connecting the two buildings over Fort Harrison Boulevard…
And here’s the supercool Atrium on the first floor!
We love the simulated Apollo deck on the first floor that will feature a lifeboat and a life-sized wall photo of the Commodore…
What would a Scientology facility be without a bookstore? Hey, and what does every volume have in common? One author!
Up on the fifth floor, we love the Space Age perceptics! This one tests your sense of touch or something, and that’s the oiliness table in the background…
Even the fifth floor lobby looks like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey…
Up on the sixth floor, there’s the gigantic domed circular space for the Running Program, which will have rich church members sweating off a few pounds as they run around and around a lighted pillar…
And up on the seventh floor, this is where the magic happens — the office of David Miscavige, ultimate leader of the Church of Scientology!
For a full tour of all seven floors, including detailed schematics of items like the pain station and infinite pit, please see our previous stories in the Village Voice — Story one, story two, story three, and a piece on the Super Power Rundown itself.
Wow, what an event that’s going to be on October 6. Hey, Dave, we want a tour of the building! Put us on the list!
Posted by Tony Ortega on August 17, 2013 at 00:00
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