Architects: Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, LLP
Location: Deerfield, Massachusetts, USA
Client: Deerfield Academy
Project Team: Roger Duffy, FAIA / Design Partner, David Childs, FAIA / Design Partner, Anthony Vacchione, AIA / Managing Partner, Christopher McCready, AIA / Project Manager, Ursula Schneider / Senior Designer, Scott Kirkham / Senior Designer, Reiner Bagnato / Technical Coordinator
Collaborators: Frank Ruggerio, Alexandra Cuber, Vivian Lee, Thomas Behr, Terry Hudak
Construction Manger: Gilbane Building Company
Structural Engineer: Le Messurier Consultants
MEP Engineer: Ove Arup & Partners
Civil Engineer: Tighe & Bond, Inc.
Lighting: Ove Arup & Partners
Landscape Architect: Brown Sardinia, Inc.
Planetarium Consultant: Spitz, Inc.
Communications Consultant: Valley Communications Systems, Inc.
Structural Consulting Engineers: John Born Associates
Surveyor: Sherman & Woods
Commissioning: BVH Integrated Services, Inc.
Collaborating Artist: James Turrell
Astronomer: Richard Walker
Geologist: Richard Little
Building Size: 7,400 sqm
Design Year: 2001–2003
Construction Year: 2004–2007
Photographs: Courtesy of SOM
Designed to encourage interdisciplinary communication and informal learning, this 80,000-square-foot building contains 15 classrooms, eight labs, faculty offices and a conference hall, extra-help rooms and special project areas. The program also includes a multi-media classroom, two biology gardens and a growth room, two small seminar rooms, six informal seating areas; seven garden terraces, a café, a lecture hall that also functions as a 50-seat planetarium, and a large lecture hall arranged in a Socratic configuration with interactive, distance learning capabilities.
The centerpiece of the building is a multi-purpose central commons with a starfield map and analemma, providing circulation space and a public lobby for the lecture halls.
The program is arranged in an elongated Z-shaped plan, with this central large atrium/common area. By incorporating this plan with the site, existing contour lines on the site were extruded in brick to form the walls of the architecture. By greening the roofs and terraces, the Z-form of the structure dissolves into a fluid form characteristic of the landscape. To complement the predominantly Georgian style of Deerfield Academy, the Koch Center is built out of locally-made bricks from a Massachusetts company established in 1893.
The building aims to make the wonders of science and perception visible in the actual design of the building. The analemma skylight, essentially a pinhole in the roof plane of the building, admits a beam of light on to the north wall of the science commons. The changing position of the sun in the sky (high in summer, low in winter) changes the position of the projection, creating the infinity shape of the analemma and demonstrating the elliptical and axial movement of the earth on its yearly orbit about the sun.