Some buildings are sympathetic to nature. Others are open to nature. But the River, the latest project from SANAA, is practically a part of nature. As the name suggests, the building’s organic shape resembles a stream meandering peacefully through its idyllic setting. Conversely, the experience of this bucolic place, 80 acres of Connecticut countryside, is enhanced by the River’s calming presence. Viewed through SANAA’s curved glass walls, the sky looks somehow bluer, the trees somehow greener, and the landscape all the more magnificent.
Located in New Canaan, the River belongs to the Grace Farms Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in 2009 that asked the Pritzker-Prize-winning firm from Tokyo to create a building that embodies its mission as a place where people can “experience nature, encounter the arts, pursue justice, foster community, and explore faith.” The foundation aimed to preserve this unspoiled parcel in perpetuity and share it with the public. Originally a patchwork of small farms, the property had fallen into the clutches of a developer who had it rezoned for a 10-lot subdivision. After saving the land from that fate, the foundation began the international search for a designer that led them to SANAA.
Client: Grace Farms Foundation, Inc.
Owner: Grace Farms Foundation, Inc.
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Architect of record:
Frank Fusaro, Principal
Owner’s Representative/Project Direction:
Robert Silman Associates
Dennis McGlade, Partner
Soils and Wetlands:
Conservation Planning and Herpetologist:
Gross Square Footage:
83,000 gross square feet for the River (enclosed areas plus covered path); 17,000 gross square feet for the barns.
Total Project Cost:
Steel Superstructure & Ornamental Metals
Custom Curved Beams
Glue-Laminated Beams & Trusses
Tripyramid Structures Inc.
Roschmann Steel & Glass Constructions Inc.
Wood Fascia Veneer
Roofing (Liquid-Applied + Foam + Silicone)
Metal & Wood Doors
Metal & Wood Door Hardware
Cabinetwork and Custom Woodwork
Paints and stains
Curved Metal Doors, Hardware, Drywall, Plaster and Gypsum, Paint, Toilet Fixtures & Accessories
Floor and Wall Tile
Concrete Topping Slabs
Crenshaw Lighting[Custom Fixtures]
Dimming System and Lighting Controls
HVAC & Plumbing
Landscaping and Sitework
CUSTOM FURNITURE & FIXTURES:
Custom Sanctuary Chairs
Custom Lecture Hall Seating
Precast Concrete Fireplaces & BBQ pit
Drapery and Tracks
Interior Glass & Mirrors
Barn Doors and Windows