Grace Farms, New Canaan, CT, USA
Nestled amid 75 acres of meadows, woods, wetlands and lakes, the River building begins on a knoll and meanders down in a series of bends, forming pond-like spaces. The building of glass, concrete, steel and wood possesses a single long roof, which appears to float above the ground as it twists and turns across the landscape. The walkways, courtyards and volumes wrapped in glass that form beneath the roof are remarkably transparent, inviting people to engage with the expansive natural surroundings which are being preserved by the not-for-profit Grace Farms Foundation.
Grace Farms is a social landscape for enjoying community life in a natural setting and will provide opportunities for outdoor social gathering, athletics and recreation. The organization is committed to preserving the habitat for native flora and fauna while creating uplifting spaces for people to interact in.
The meandering wooden roof and the undulating glass curtain hanging from it are the centerpieces of the climate concept. The expanse of uninterrupted clear glazing requires solar control in the summer and comfort considerations in the winter. The combination of interior shading and curved glass also introduced unique thermal environments.
With Transsolar’s assistance, the combined challenge of optimizing daylighting and comfort under such ambitious climate and architectural conditions was resolved elegantly. The overhang depth of the roof was optimized to reduce solar gains while maintaining daylight access. Window system surface temperatures were analyzed to ensure comfort conditions. The feasibility of a radiant floor as well as alternative system configurations were analyzed for the sanctuary, gymnasium, and dining spaces. Transsolar also advised on energy conservation measures such as reduced lighting power density, daylight-responsive controls, roof construction, and mechanical equipment efficiency in order to reduce overall energy consumption.