Fisher Science and Academic Center

Bard College at Simon's Rock, Great Barrington, Massachusetts

In addition to a specific science and academic program for the building, Simon's Rock College desired a building which would maximize social and intellectual interaction between faculty and students outside of formal classrooms and labs, as well as integrate dedicated lab space for chemistry, biology, ecology and physics with general purpose classrooms, meeting and seminar rooms, faculty offices and a 60-seat auditorium. The school intended that this building to break down the perceived separation between the sciences and other academic disciplines.

The building is set into the existing landscape to minimize disturbance to existing woodlands and wetlands, preserve a large lawn on the hillside to the south of the site, and relate to a major pedestrian path on campus. Its orientation and linear organization maximizes sun light and views into the landscape. The building is cut into the hillside to reduce its apparent height from the south.

The building is organized as a series of pavilions under roof planes which step up as they slide away from the main entrance. It stretches along the hillside gathering sun into the building's linear heart. The glazed entry space is twisted toward the center of campus and acts as a lantern to draw people into the building. The lecture hall and main lab spaces are expressed on the exterior as separate and distinct pavilions, each anchoring one of the building's roof planes. The labs are further marked by masonry "chimneys."

The primary circulation is a two story interior street whose upper level is a bridge allowing sunlight to reach the lower level and providing a sense of openness. It extends along the south side of the building between the concrete retaining wall and the labs/classrooms. The main stair in the lobby spills down from the upper level as an extension of the upper level bridge animating this entry space. The "street" is inhabited by a series of spaces and objects, each brightly colored to enliven the space and provide variety along the street. We think of this place as a kind of village. Between the colored boxes and the lab pavilions are a rich mix of meeting and social spaces which maximize the opportunity for both organized and impromptu gatherings within the building.

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson worked with our Associated Architect, Architecture+ on this project.


2001 Honor Award
AIA Northeastern Pennsylvania
2000 Honor Award for Design
AIA Pennsylvania
1999 Excellence in Design
AIA New York
1998 Design Award
AIA Massachusetts
1998 Honor Award
AIA Eastern New York
1998 Design Award
American Wood Council
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