- Landscape Architects:OLIN
- Executive Architect:Handel Architects
- Mep Engineer And Lighting:Buro Happold
- Building Envelope:Front
- Meadow Consultant:Larry Weaner Landscape Associates
- Soils And Wetlands:Environmental Planning Services
- Conservation Planning And Herpetologist:Michael W. Klemens LLC
- Architect In Charge:Kazuyo Sejima, Ryue Nishizawa
- Design Team:Shohei Yoshida, Takayuki Hasegawa, Tommy Haddock
- Roof Safety Access:Zahner
- City:New Canaan
- Country:United States
Creation of a multipurpose building and landscape design for Grace Farms, an 80-acre natural environment in New Canaan, Connecticut that the non-profit Grace Farms Foundation is preserving as a gift of open space for people to experience nature, encounter the arts, pursue justice, foster community and explore faith. The facilities of the building will be made available by the Foundation to Grace Community Church and other select nonprofit and community groups, and will be the site for pub- lic amenities and programs ranging from coffee and tea service, discussions, intimate concerts and family-friendly art classes and athletics to a curated, multi-disciplinary series of cultural projects and events.
Approximately 77 of the 80 acres of Grace Farms are being retained in perpetuity as open meadows, woods, wetlands and ponds. OLIN’s design preserves and enhances the existing habitat for native flora and fauna while integrating a community garden, athletic fields and a SANAA-designed playground and trails. Trees that were cleared for construction are being milled on site to construct the furniture for Grace Farms, including 18- foot-long community tables. Fifty-five 500-foot-deep geothermal wells have been drilled on the property for heating and cooling. Seventy percent of mowed areas will be returned to natural meadows by Larry Weaner Landscape Associates.
In its architectural brief, the Foundation asked for a venue of “cultural interest and curiosity via open space, architecture, art and design in order to provide people with an opportunity to:
- Experience Nature: Our aim is to draw people into this beautiful landscape, to enhance one’s experience of nature through all five senses, and to allow nature itself to inspire in us an experience of awe.
- Foster Community: We hope to provide a warm, welcoming environment that fosters personal relationships through passive and active, social and artistic activities.
- Pursue Justice: We will offer resources and feature opportunities to improve lives by helping others, showing mercy and advancing justice together.
- Explore Faith: We aspire to create an environment for reflection, study, discussion and worship.”
SANAA’s goal was to make the architecture of the River become part of the landscape without drawing attention to itself, or even feeling like a building, with the hope that those who are on the property will have a greater enjoyment of the beautiful environment and changing seasons through the spaces and experience created by the River.
Nestled into the rolling landscape of Grace Farms, the River begins on a knoll and then flows down the long, gentle slope (a change in grade of 43 ft – 9 in) in a series of bends, forming pondlike spaces on its journey. Structurally, the building of glass, concrete, steel and wood is in essence a single long roof, which seems to float above the surface of the ground as it twists and turns across the landscape. The walkways, courtyards and glasswrapped volumes that form beneath the roof are remarkably transparent and invite people to engage with the expansive natural surroundings.