Performing Arts Center, The Putney School
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20,000 square feet; 300-seat auditorium with flexible seating and staging; dance studio with basket-weave floor; orchestra rehearsal rooms; flexi… Read More
20,000 square feet; 300-seat auditorium with flexible seating and staging; dance studio with basket-weave floor; orchestra rehearsal rooms; flexible exhibition space: walls move and can create lockable gallery space; planted sedum roof; LEED Silver. Read Less
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Performing Arts Center, The Putney School
Putney, VT  USA
The Putney School, a boarding schooland working farm, invited us to build a performing arts center amid its hilltopcollection of quaint clapboard houses and a red barn. How we arrived at a contemporary buildingwith folded roofs, bold forms, vibrant interior colors and high marks forenvironmental sensitivity is a story about the importance ofconsensus-building. Adding considerable complexity to the project was the largegroup of trustees, faculty and students who all wanted a say in the building’sdesign and who had strong emotional ties to the campus.

Our design process was highly interactive with the Putneygroup; we frequently produced models and designs and didn’t move forward untilwe were unified in purpose. A key agreement early on was that the buildingshould look to the future. Scale was a consideration, too: The large footprintrequired for performance and exhibition space could have easily dwarfed thesurrounding buildings. With this in mind, we chose a site that preserved thecampus’ open spaces and put the building snug against a wooded hill. As thedesign developed, we broke down the mass of the building to reduce the overallscale and impact. By introducing a series of folds in the roof, we created openingsfor natural light and a feeling of movement that expresses the activity within.Inside, bold colors heighten the experience of performance spaces; gallerywalls can be moved to reconfigure exhibition space and views reconnect visitorsto the landscape.

View of skylights and green roof.
View at entry of metal donor wall and moveable partitions that create flexible spaces for exhibitions and events.