Michael S. Currier Center, The Putney School

Putney
Photo © John Linden
Photo © John Linden
Interior showing movable gallery walls
Photo © Greg Premru
View of roof
Photo © John Linden
Photo © John Linden
View of building at dusk
Photo © John Linden
Architects
Charles Rose Architects
Client
The Putney School
Team
Charles Rose

The Putney School, a boarding school and working farm, invited us to build a performing arts center amid its hilltop collection of quaint clapboard houses and a red barn. How we arrived at a contemporary building with folded roofs, bold forms, vibrant interior colors, and high marks for environmental sensitivity is a story about the importance of consensus-building. Adding considerable complexity to the project was the large group of trustees, faculty, and students who all wanted a say in the building’s design and who had strong emotional ties to the campus.

Our design process was highly interactive with the Putney group; we frequently produced models and designs and didn’t move forward until we were unified in purpose. A key agreement early on was that the building should look to the future. Scale was a consideration, too: The large footprint required for performance and exhibition space could have easily dwarfed the surrounding buildings. With this in mind, we chose a site that preserved the campus’ open spaces and put the building snug against a wooded hill. As the design developed, we broke down the mass of the building to reduce the overall scale and impact. By introducing a series of folds in the roof, we created openings for natural light and a feeling of movement that expresses the activity within. Inside, bold colors heighten the experience of performance spaces; gallery walls can be moved to reconfigure exhibition space and views reconnect visitors to the landscape.

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Other Projects by Charles Rose Architects

Carl and Ruth Shapiro Campus Center, Brandeis University
Waltham
Paintrock Camp
Hyattville
Chilmark House
Martha’s Vineyard
Leeper Studio Complex, Atlantic Center for the Arts
New Smyrna Beach
Chilmark Guest House
Martha's Vineyard
Meunster University Center, University of South Dakota
Vermillion