American Institute of Architects CT | 2017
Alice Washburn Award
Reminiscent of a vernacular barn structure in an abandoned state, this new “reclaimed” structure houses a state of the art theater, sculpture gallery and observatory. Perched austerely on a hillside with sweeping views into the gardens and meadows, one side opens with an industrial air-craft hangar door allowing further union with the countryside. The enclosure is minimal, emphasizing the platonic, skeletal space. The exterior is clad in glass and Cor-Ten Steel in a natural rusted state. Atop sits a rotating aperture-slit dome of galvanized metal used for observing terrestrial or celestial events. Visitors are greeted by a monumental oak door that floats in its glass façade. Continuing the mystery and creating a little bit of tension, a mottled black folded plate steel stair, resembling the bellows of an accordion, cantilevers off the wall. Within the switchback hang clear sheets of polycarbonate, instilling a small sense of security, but remaining precarious. Once ascended, visitors encounter a catwalk crafted in steel and resin panels set within a circular spoked frame evocative of a reel of film which hovers above the gallery below. Combining the romance of the abandoned farm structure with a sense of folly from an earlier century, the building creates drama within its shell and frames the natural drama without.