Features & Columns

Former College Campus Remade
into 1440 Multiversity

Scott Kriens and his team have spared no expense in building out 1440 Multiversity
Scott Kriens and his team have spared no expense in building out 1440 Multiversity. Photo by Gary Singh

As we traverse the landscape of 1440 Multiversity in Scotts Valley, Scott Kriens of Juniper Networks talks about 800,000 pounds of Sierra granite boulders that his team gathered to build a creek bed. Along the way, he points out Indonesian teakwood chairs, custom hand-fabricated steel railings, and wooden ceiling beams air-blasted with walnut shells.

Built on a 75-acre spread formerly occupied by the abandoned Bethany Christian College, 1440 is a new learning destination, a place where numerous high-profile teachers are just now starting to book classes. People from all over the world show up to reevaluate their inner mechanisms.

Named after the exact number of minutes in a day, 1440 Multiversity is already open, but construction is still unfolding as Kriens takes me around the campus. We see yoga studios, redwood lodges, meeting and spa facilities, a lucrative organic kitchen and black limestone stairways. 1440 is a wellness center, an immersion learning destination, a cooking school, an integrative healing retreat, a hiking getaway, and a corporate meeting facility for groups who value contemplative traditions. The first shovel hit the ground summer 2014.

The entire campus, Kriens says, is the logical expansion of the work he and his wife started with the 1440 Foundation, an effort to support "compassionate communities leading generative lives" to better their relationships with themselves and others, or in other words, help people contribute to the world by creating more energy than they consume.

"Joanie and I started the foundation in 2010, not yet with any plan for all of this, but really around a belief that we still share, which is that there's a whole world of growth and learning to be developed inside of ourselves," he tells me. "In some ways it's kinda the new frontier all over again."

Some of the buildings on the campus retain elements of the abandoned Bethany campus, while other structures have been totally rebuilt. The administration building and check-in area, for example, was formerly a drab 1950s-era concrete structure. It's been taken apart and repurposed as a craftsman style building to now look like a Rocky Mountain ski lodge. Elements of Canadian cedar, stone, slate and copper give the interior an earthy vibe. Some of the wooden beams came from Melvin Belli's old Nob Hill mansion in San Francisco.

Kriens solicited numerous collaborators in the process of constructing every single component, straight down to 40-million-year-old fossils engrained in the stone masonry work, all of which was done entirely by hand, piece after piece. As we continue to trip around the property, a minute doesn't go by without him pointing out similar levels of detail at every single structure.

"To be consistent, that means building with a real staff also," Kriens says.

In another mind-blowing scenario, a building now called the Sanctuary was the original main chapel at Bethany University. The front portion of the building, formerly the choir riser, is now a retail space filled with yoga supplies, books, jewelry and gifts. Kriens points to a table made from 1,200-year-old redwood, plus chic rubber flooring and hanging lamps made from repurposed PA system horns that the church used 50 years ago. The rest of the building, formerly the main church area, is now repurposed as a studio for yoga classes, meditation, movement therapy, trauma desensitization exercises and a variety of introspective healing practices. The property goes on and on.

A teaching kitchen will feature classes, alternative food instruction and 12 stations where students can work hand-to-hand with chefs. A hi-tech lecture hall already provides hi-quality audio and video recordings for every teacher who presents here. They get copies of the video for free. The legendary Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield recently taught a class of 300 people from 17 different countries. The list of future faculty reads like an international who's who of mindfulness, self-discovery, nutrition, growth psychology and healing arts disciplines.

"What we're out to do is to create this learning destination that invites people to both rest and recharge, but also maybe integrate some things about ourselves," Kriens says. "Not just the physical self or the intellectual self—that's what we all got taught in school—but the emotional, relational self."

From that integration, he adds, we become "a little bit more whole, and then take that out, and share it with those that matter most in our lives."

To learn more about 1440 Multiversity, go to 1440.org.