Project: Art & Science Building
Location: Deerfield, MA

The Evans Center is conceived as a teaching tool for Eaglebrook's science, art, and music programs, replacing several outdated buildings. Unifying disparate programs into one facility while maintaining the campus' intimate scale and rustic character presented the principal design challenge.

The team developed a diversity of dramatic spaces that encourage an interdisciplinary community amongst the art, science and music curriculums. Transparency, sustainability, integration with the school’s natural features, and invitation to exploration were key design goals.   

Tucked into the mountainside between Whipple Pond and the school’s namesake Eagle Brook, the Evans Center lightens as it rises from masonry bearing walls to steel frame and glass curtain walls.  Brick and natural wood cladding stratify its mass and connect it to existing structures and the surrounding woodlands.

Learning space moves in and out of the building via ramps, open stairs, bridges, terraces, a green roof and amphitheater.  Tilting roofs provide generous natural light and channel rainwater into open spillways leading to the central pond, dramatizing the hydrologic cycle.  Additionally, the building’s edges extend outward into the central campus and unite the pond with a great lawn, while providing opportunities for outdoor instruction and play along its edges.

Art and science themes are present throughout, such as an etched concrete tree of life morphing into a spiral stair vortex that ascends to celestial patterns of light. A mechanical gallery with exposed services, display cases integrated into classroom walls, and abundant pinup space for student work help students learn from the building and each other. A writable-glass-enclosed bridge/cafe connecting faculty offices promotes serendipitous interactions between all departments. Inspired by the school’s original 19th century lodge, a fireside surge space offers students and faculty a less-formal, non-classroom setting.

Thirty-two geothermal wells located underneath the building heat and cool the interior, and a rooftop solar array provides most of the building’s electrical needs.

Exterior wood sunshades and interior sun-shelves modulate seasonal daylight into classrooms, reducing the need for artificial lighting. When needed or at night, warm LED lighting provides a comfortable environment throughout.

In an age where climate change and disharmony are dominating the conversations of world issues, the design team saw the potential for the architecture and performance of the Evans Center to embody a unity between the natural and manmade that Eaglebrook students can learn from and carry forward into adulthood.