Sharon Prince, President of the New Canaan- based Grace Farms Foundation, announced that the 75-acre Grace Farms, an environment where people may experience nature, foster community, pursue justice and explore faith, will open to the public in autumn 2015.
Developed as a gift of open space for the people of New Canaan and a platform for initiatives in the non-profit Foundation’s program areas, Grace Farms features a purpose-built 86,000 sf multi-use building by the Pritzker Prize-winning firm SANAA, designed to blend almost transparently into woodlands, wetlands and meadows with a landscape design by SANAA in collaboration with OLIN.
Known as the River because of the way it meanders through the rolling terrain, the SANAA building occupies a footprint of 77,000 sf at Grace Farms. Nestled into the landscape, the River begins on a knoll and then flows down the long, gentle slope in a series of bends, forming pond-like spaces on its journey.
Structurally, the building of glass, concrete, steel and wood is in essence a single long roof, which seems to float some 10 to 14 feet above the surface of the ground as it twists and turns across the landscape.
The walkways, courtyards and glass-wrapped volumes that form beneath the roof are remarkably transparent and invite people to engage with the expansive natural surroundings.
Kazuyo Sejima, co-founder and co-principal of SANAA, stated, “Our goal with the River is to make the architecture become part of the landscape. We 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.”
The glass-walled volumes of the River are:
an 11,000 sf sanctuary/indoor amphitheater with seating for 700;
a 3,300 sf staffed library with resources to research justice, the arts, nature, architecture and faith, with a glass-enclosed conference room with fireplace;
a 6,900 sf dining room and living room, with capacity for 300, with communal tables built from trees harvested on-site, a coffee bar, sofas and fireplace;
a 950 sf staffed welcome center where visitors can be oriented to Grace Farms, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea or listen to intimate musical performances;
a 7,500 sf gymnasium/multi-purpose space built partially below grade, with adjoining media lab and game room, for recreation, youth activities and arts performances.
In its transparency, fluidity and expression of the Grace Farms mission, the design of the River exemplifies qualities identified by Yuko Hasegawa, Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo: “The SANAA architectural experience encourages the emergence of various relationships by loosely connecting the public and the private, the group and the individual, and the external and the internal.” Source by Grace Farms.
Location : New Canaan, USA
Landscape : OLIN
Area: 86,000 sf
Year: Under construction
Photographs: Dean Kaufman, Todd Eberle