SANNA-designed 'River' community centre in Connecticut, US, opens to the public
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SANNA-designed 'River' community centre in Connecticut, US, opens to the public

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The SANAA-designed Grace Farms complex – a multipurpose facility which features a gymnasium, library and several performance spaces – officially opened on 9 October in New Canaan, Connecticut, US.

The Grace Farms Foundation – a non-profit organisation established in 2009 to support initiatives in the areas of faith, the arts, justice and community – celebrated the milestone with a two-day celebration, which included a special performance by the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese firm SANAA was commissioned to design the building in 2010.

The result is an 83,000sq ft (7,990sq m) structure, named ‘the River’, which stretches around 1,400ft (427m), flowing and bending down the slopes of the farm’s 80 acre property. It has a long, single roof that appears to float above the ground due the

use of transparent materials in the walls below. The effect allows visitors to engage with the farm’s rolling green surroundings.

The main building houses 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. The 16,900sq ft (1,570sq m) gymnasium has been constructed with an adjoining media lab and games room, which will host receptions, youth workshops and arts performances.

Speaking earlier this year, Kazuyo Sejima, co-founder and co-principal of SANAA, said: “Our goal with the River is to make the architecture become part of the landscape … 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 [we have] created.”

Landscaping has been designed by Philadelphia-based OLIN in collaboration with SANAA, and next year a new playground will be added in the grounds.

The Grace Farms Foundation is expecting to receive LEED certification. An estimated 77 acres of the organisation’s land has being retained as open meadows, woods, wetlands and ponds, allowing the area’s diverse habitat types to thrive. Trees removed during the construction of ‘the River’ have been reused as community tables and geothermal wells have been installed to harness energy. The site also has a 50,000-gallon (189,270-litre) water storage tank which can be used to fight fires in the local community.

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The SANAA-designed Grace Farms complex – a multipurpose facility which features a gymnasium, library and several performance spaces – officially opened on 9 October in New Canaan, Connecticut, US.
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