GRACE FARMS . New Canaan

SANAA . GRACE FARMS . photos: © dean kaufman . + archdaily

GRACE FARMS, a 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 of 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.
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
and 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
Connecting these volumes, and incorporated into the River as an integral component, are more than 28,000 sf of covered exterior walkways.

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