New Canaan, CT, USA
BuroHappold Engineering worked alongside Pritzker Prize winning architects SANAA to realize this modern masterpiece
Grace Farms offers a unique opportunity for people to experience nature, explore faith and feel part of a community
We fielded an interdisciplinary team that worked together to design complex and progressive engineering systems
Integrated into the natural setting, the serpentine rooftop of Grace Farms meanders through the heart of 80 acres of immaculate landscape. Opened in 2015, this elegant center for faith and the arts houses 86,000 ft2 of amenities across individual glass pods situated beneath the striking roof, including a 700-seat sanctuary, a library, dining and living rooms, a gymnasium, and supporting office space.
The simplistic beauty of the architect’s concept posed a number of design challenges for BuroHappold Engineering. So as not to compromise the clean, minimalist interior aesthetic, we had to ensure our provision of mechanical systems and building services was invisible, and that they conformed with our client’s energy performance goals. In addition, our lighting solution needed to enable visitors at Grace Farms to feel connected with the surrounding landscape no matter what time of day or night.
To meet these extensive requirements, our engineers worked collaboratively across disciplines to devise complex and progressive systems. Our use of below ground external tunnels to bring outdoor air into the center, and separately discharge exhaust air, eliminated the need for visible wall mounted louvers or roof top units.
We harnessed the natural resources available on site wherever possible, such as in our design for the closed loop geothermal cooling system, that greatly reduced energy use compared to traditional outdoor chillers.
Our lighting design focused on maintaining connectivity between the glass pods and the natural landscape at night. To achieve this, we accented elements of the outdoor surroundings to help pull the eye through the glazing at night. We were strategic in our placement of these lighting elements so that they would be visible to inhabitants, but not intrusive for neighboring properties.
The BuroHappold team matched the architect’s unique, ethereal vision for Grace Farms with elegant, near invisible engineering solutions. The result is a sublime structure that offers a true retreat from the modern world.
2016 Project of the Year New England, Best Cultural Worship, ENR New England
2016 Lumen Award of Merit
2016 Illuminating Engineering Society, Illumination Award of Merit
2014/2015 Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP)
2010 AIA Unbuilt Work Merit, New York Chapter Design Awards
Client: Grace Property Holdings LLC
Architect: SANAA and Handel Architects
Duration: Completed in 2015
Designing complex yet near invisible engineering solutions to realize an ethereal center for faith and the arts. Image: Iwan Baan
We devised an elegant and unobtrusive lighting system that connects visitors to the surrounding landscape, without affecting neighboring properties. Image: BHE
Our team incorporated concealed ventilation and cooling systems that preserve the architect’s clean, minimalist interior aesthetic. Image: BHE
With amenities including a 700-seat sanctuary, Grace Farms offers people a unique place where they can feel part of a like-minded community. Image: BHE
More about Grace Farms
When we integrate our engineering specialisms around a core theme (we call these Service Offers), the benefits to the client multiply.