Fisher Science and Academic Center at Bard College at Simon's Rock

Great Barrington, Massachusetts

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“Most good buildings tell us about themselves and their circumstances, but few do it so clearly and unaffectedly as the new Fisher Science and Academic Center at Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.”
David Dillon, Architectural Record

Project

Summary

The science and academic center at Bard College at Simon’s Rock breaks down the perceived barriers between the sciences and other disciplines, maximizing opportunities for informal learning and collaboration through casual interaction. The center is the campus’ first new building since it was constructed in the early 1970s. Exposed natural materials interacting with the brightly colored lab boxes, along with their loose organization along an interior street, all serve to create an environment that echoes the school’s desire for a building that celebrates the interdisciplinary, experimental nature of their programs.

Part of New York’s Bard College, Simon’s Rock is a unique 4-year liberal-arts school that educates young scholars, who typically enroll at age 16. Nestled into the hillside, the center minimizes the impact on “Siberia,” the much-beloved lawn to the south, and preserves views of the nearby Berkshire Mountains. The structure unfolds slowly, and almost vanishes altogether from certain vantage points.

The building is organized as a series of pavilions stretching along a sunlit two-story interior street. Brightly colored masses house the labs and other program elements; between them are meeting and social spaces where students and faculty interact and make cross-discipline connections. The pavilions step up as they slide away from the entrance, further reducing the massing and creating an identity for each program area. The glazed main entry is turned toward campus and acts as a beacon in the evening.

The upper story is a bridge that provides a sense of openness and brings daylight to the lower level. At its western terminus, a lounge offers views of the Berkshires. The lounge table, fabricated from a single sheet of plywood, was also designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

Project Data

Location:
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Dates:
1995 – 1998
Clients:
Bard College at Simon’s Rock
Size:
20,000 sf

Awards/Honors

2001
Honor Award
2000
Honor Award for Design
1999
Excellence in Design
1998
Design Award
Honor Award
Design Award