Located on an old working farm, the existing campus is a place of contrasts. Dense forest is broken by large meadows, which are spotted with old farm buildings, an occasional historic structure and a series of 1960’s vintage campus buildings. The building site is on gently sloping ground between a wooded wetland and an old orchard field that fronts the main public road.
The sloping site was used to the architect’s advantage by creating entries to the facility on two levels. On the lower level, students and staff arrive at the facility by approaching the interior ‘Lawn Court’ from the campus center on a new boardwalk that passes through the wooded wetland. Off campus visitors arrive on the upper level, which is marked by the glowing mass of the dance studio and the rich cedar siding of the studio theatre. Both entries meet in the double height lobby space that serves the theatres and dance studio. The large window wall in the lobby looks into the interior courtyard, back to the traditional center of campus and out to the Berkshire Hills beyond.
The facility was designed to maximize flexibility, adaptability and collaboration. The performing arts are sandwiched between the visual arts wing, hosting the ‘clean ‘arts – electronic arts studio, midi sound studio, digital arts, photography, painting, drawing and printmaking spaces, and the ‘dirty’ arts of the shop building, housing ceramics, metal and wood working, set and assembly shops and ceramics, plaster and computer controlled modeling studios. An electronic backbone of circuitry was installed to allow full collaboration between the digital art spaces and performing spaces.
The Lawn Court was designed as a multi-use courtyard that can function as a gathering space and/or performance amphitheater, with a large sliding door opening right onto the stage space. Large garage doors in the shop building allow the work going on in these studios to spill outside onto the Art Court, further animating the entire facility and fostering cross disciplinary collaboration.
The Performing Arts Center includes a 350-seat Mainstage Theatre with fly space, a 100-seat studio theatre, dance studio, lobby, lobby space and back-stage space with dressing rooms, restrooms, offices, rehearsal rooms, a costume shop, classrooms and other support spaces.
The Visual Arts Building is connected to the Performing Arts Center and contains photography darkrooms, electronic arts studio, midi studio, printmaking, painting, and drawing studios, computer and other electronic media facilities, classrooms and office space. The 3-D Studio Shop Building is a separate building to the north of the Performing Arts Center and includes the ceramic studio, 3D studio, wood and theatre shop, metal working facilities and other shop and support spaces.