Text description provided by the architects. Indian Mountain School (IMS) is a PreK-9 independent boarding school located on a 600-acre campus in Lakeville, Connecticut, serving 186 students. As a result of a campus study conducted for IMS, Flansburgh designed an 8,750-gsf music, art, and technology building specifically designed for collaborative, cross-disciplinary, project-based learning. The design features welcoming spaces including art classrooms that have sliding barn doors that open onto a shared gallery, and offices, and meeting spaces that open onto a Visitor Commons. The flexible design provides a common space, which functions as a project space during the day and a student lounge in the evening. The kitchenette and café help make it a great hangout space. The form of the building recalls a traditional New England barn with slopped tin roof, exposed timber and board, and batten siding. This traditional form is made innovative by a large area of glass, angled in plan, and fastened directly to the post and beam construction. The glass allows dramatic views of Indian Mountain, the school’s namesake. The western side of the building, particularly the common room, opens directly onto the landscape every classroom has a door to the outside.
The design challenge was to provide a interdisciplinary arts center that integrated visual arts, music, and science while also serving as a student center for boarders and an activity center for parents; to celebrate the schools identity as a “camp with books”; to create an iconic building (that looks like an arts center) while holding true to the informal, traditional, rural new England buildings that populate the campus; to strengthen the connection between the school and the surrounding landscape, particularly to Indian Mountain, a small mountain directly west of the school; to provide a venue for local artists; and to keep the constructions costs below $3 million.
The organization of the building supports collaboration and fosters a sense of community. Visual art studios open onto a shared gallery space with large sliding barn doors. The Fab Lab and music rehearsal studio open onto the common room with folding glass walls. The common room includes a cafe with cafe seating and informal “soft” seating to be used for informal gatherings, independent work, expansion of studio spaces, and event space for boarders in the evening.
Exposed Glu-Lam post and beam structure recalls the barn structures of rural Connecticut. Painted concrete floors, exposed metal strapping, exposed steel fasteners convey an honesty of expression and integration of structure, materiality and architecture. Clerestory lighting brings daylight into the central gallery, mitigating the need for artificial lighting.
In addition to the building’s use of glue-lams as the principle means of structure, these columns and beams were also employed as lateral support for the building’s curtain wall system. The strength and fastening capability of glue-lams eliminated the need for aluminum tube backplates, whereby the wood supported the curtain wall window system directly.
The Student Arts & Innovation Center at Indian Mountain School was originally conceived as a building for student arts. Given the facility’s popularity among students, it is now simply referred to as the ‘Student Center’. Positioned between academic buildings and student playfields, the Student Center enjoys a central campus location that reinforces its role as the school’s campus meeting place.