October opening date for SANAA’s eco-themed River complex in Connecticut, US
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October opening date for SANAA’s eco-themed River complex in Connecticut, US

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The SANAA-designed Grace Farms complex – which features an amphitheatre, gymnasium and library – will officially open on 9 October.

Located in New Canaan, Connecticut in the US, it is being built for the Grace Farms Foundation, a non-profit organisation established in 2009 to support initiatives in the areas of faith, the arts, justice and community. The complex will be open to the public.

The 86,000sq ft building is known as the ‘River’ because of the way it meanders through the rolling terrain, and SANAA has made it transparent so that the glass, concrete, steel and wood structure appears to blend in with its natural surroundings.

The Japanese studio’s design features what is essentially a single roof, as well as pond-like spaces that house community elements such as a dining room, an indoor amphitheatre, and a gymnasium. Events such as film screenings, book signings, and symposia will be held in the building.

Walkways and courtyards invite people to engage with the 75-acres of natural surroundings owned by the foundation. Landscaping has been designed by Philadelphia-based OLIN in collaboration with SANAA.

“Our goal with the River is to make the architecture become part of the landscape,” said Kazuyo Sejima, co-founder and co-principal of SANAA, which won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2010.

“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.”

Grace Farms has also commissioned works by artists Thomas Demand, Olafur Eliasson, Susan Phillipsz, and Teresita Fernández for the building. The foundation worked with Yuko Hasegawa, the chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, for the site-specific commissions.

German photographer Demand will take pictures of SANAA’s architectural models of the River building for his commission.

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The SANAA-designed Grace Farms complex – which features an amphitheatre, gymnasium and library – will officially open on 9 October.
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