Ann Beha Architects creates a dynamic

campus symbol while respecting tradition and creativity at the DANIEL ARTS CENTER of Simon's Rock College of Bard o oc

1. 3D Studio

2. Wood shop

3. Metal shop

4. Ceramics studio

5. Rehearsal space

6. Main-stage theater

7. Studio theater

8. Upper lobby

9. Dance studio

10. Electronic arts studio

11. Painting studio

12. Classroom

13. Arts lab

14. Outdoor stage

Applied Crystalline Waterproofing

for performing arts, one for visual arts, and a shop, which sits slightly apart from the others. The buildings are oriented to face the rest of campus and to maximize exposure to natural light.

The performing arts center, the facility's largest component, includes a 350-seat main-stage theater; a 100-seat studio theater; a dance studio; and several rehearsal, support, and office spaces. The roof's gradual pitch accommodates and minimizes the tall heights of the theater and dance studios. Stained cedar planking, applied vertically and highlighted at intersections with aluminum flashing, clads the outside of the main-stage and studio theaters, accenting them and adding a striking overall richness. Grayish cementitious board, installed with a vertical ship-lapped profile, clads the rest of the building, including the "back of house" theater spaces. Semitransparent polycarbonate glazing, wrapping around wood studs, elegantly filters light in and out of the building, reducing glare and heat, and glowing in a mesmerizing fashion at night. In the two-story lobby, exposed, large-span steel trusses, fir beams, and mechanical systems help maintain lofty heights and reveal the building's steel frame structure. This space is also lined partly with cedar, while clear glass curtain walls at its two entrances supply more natural light.

The theaters are sophisticated and technically advanced, ideal for students who often felt limited by their high school facilities. The main-stage theater includes a full fly space, spaces for several sets, and computer-controlled sound and lighting. Walls are partially clad with staggered, stained plywood, a simple solution that produces a dynamic effect. The architects attended theater classes in order to better understand students' needs, resulting in unique touches. The theater opens through a large sliding door at stage left to accommodate outdoor performances; the studio theater includes a walkable grid above the stage so students can learn technical skills without having to perch on a catwalk. The high-ceilinged dance studio, surrounded almost completely with polycarbonate glazing and opening to the lobby, receives perhaps the most natural light of any space in the complex.

The sleek visual arts center, clad in a vertical pattern of cemen-titious board, clear windows, and polycarbonate glazing, is connected, and perpendicular to, the performing arts component. The space has double-loaded corridors that accommodate an impressive selection of arts facilities, including a darkroom; printmaking, drawing, and painting studios; and audiovisual and electronic-music labs. The cavernous, cementitious-board-clad shop building, which has large garage doors, a

The two-story visual arts section of the complex (below) is clad with cementitious board, and includes a staggered arrangement of clear glass and polycarbonate glazing.

loading zone, and its own outdoor work yard, has a more industrial feel that Beha compares to an enormous body shop garage. Isolated from the rest of the complex, it contains facilities for wood working, metal working, jewelry making, and ceramics. As with most artists' lofts, its extreme openness provides room for variation and spatial relocation. "It's sort of a stage set for the arts," says Beha.

The complex effectively evokes both Modern and vernacular design. The main section's cedar cladding and sloped roofs lend it a contemporary sophistication, but still evoke the pastoral forms and even the cedar aroma of New England barns. Each building component establishes its own identity, but the three are unified by their proximity, and their simplicity—perhaps the complex's strongest features. Although it offers plentiful resources, it never feels overwhelming or discombobulating. Some smaller classrooms can feel a little cramped, but the prevalence of interior light and spatial order minimize this sensation. Still, outside, the landscape feels a little bare, partly due to a construction miscommunication that resulted in the removal of several trees from the former on-site orchard.

While the rich cedar cladding is a highlight, the cementitious board, necessitated by budget, is more pedestrian, despite frequent window piercings and the vertical board-and-batten arrangement. The material matches best with the industrial shop, and still fits well into the low-key campus, where similar materials are prevalent.

But inside, such concerns are forgotten, as visitors move along an extremely welcoming progression of spaces. While the building has a familiar feel, it is also, like the school's original mission, quirky and unique. The combination of varied spaces and materials, even the art lining the walls and standing in the lobby, contributes to this impression. Meanwhile, a long boardwalk connects the center to the rest of campus. Students use it for long conversations, to balance themselves on its side rails, and ride downhill on skateboards. Indeed, Simon's Rock's creative spirit is alive and well here. ■


Glass: PPG; Polygal Cellular Polycarbonate Siding: Hardiplank Paint: Sikkens stain Metals: ICI Devoe Coatings Drywall: USG

Lighting: Hess America;

Lithonia; Lightolier; Cole; Holophane;

Kur t Versen

For more information on this project, go to Projects at

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