The name “River Building” is a building formally and conceptually inspired by the idea of an imaginary river flowing through the knolls of Grace Farms.
When SANAA, the Tokio-based award-winning practice conducted by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, was contacted by the foundation to design the new Grace Farms center, the architects were asked to meet two key-points with their design: “to make the architecture become part of the landscape” and “we asked for no front door”, says Sharon Prince, the President of the Grace Farm Foundation.
The solution developed by SANAA is a low-rise transparent construction which sinuously meanders on the undulated terrain and in which all the functional area come one after another under a single curvilinear roof. While the building seems to be single-story from the outside, it actually has also a second underground level, accessible through stairs and ramps, which accommodates a lecture hall, as well as storage, service and ancillary spaces.
The structure is made in steel, the thin columns that support the roof with round hollow profiles, and the roof structure with H and rectangular sections.
The enclosure walls are made with curved glass panels and wood is widely used for ceiling and pavement cladding.
The roof top is clad in aluminum with a “pearly” semi-gloss finish.
Sitting in the middle of a 80-acre idyllic site, the 7.700 square meters building accommodates a series of different functional spaces: a 700-seat auditorium and theater, a library, a welcome center where visitors receive information and are oriented, a coffee/bar, a multipurpose and multimedia-equipped hall which can be used as gymnasium, dance hall, art performance space.
Photo credits: Dean Kaufman, Iwan Baan, Jonah Rosenberg, Kelly McGarvey.