Grace Farms

The River at Grace Farms in New Canaan, Connecticut

Photo of Grace Farms, designed by SANAADescending into a valley at Grace Farms in New Canaan Connecticut, The River consists of five volumes linked together by a single curving roof. SANAA designed the project with Handel Architects serving as the executive architect. The new building provides a sanctuary, library, court, commons, and pavilion, all under an aluminum roof by Zahner.

Photo of Grace Farms roof, in exterior anodized aluminum

Grace Farms roof, in exterior anodized aluminum.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Descending the hillside at Grace Farms to the building below.Photo of Dusk falls on the roof of <i>The River</i> at Grace Farms, designed by SANAA

 

Dusk falls on the roof of The River at Grace Farms, designed by SANAA.
Photo by Chris McVoy.

Photo of Roof detail for Grace Farms, designed by SANAA

Roof detail for Grace Farms, designed by SANAA.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Dusk at Grace Farms, <i>The River</i>Photo of Dusk falls on the roof of <i>The River</i> at Grace Farms, designed by SANAA

 

Dusk falls on the The River at Grace Farms, designed by SANAA.
Photo by Chris McVoy.

Photo of The main performance hall at Grace Farms in New Canaan, Connecticut

The Sanctuary at Grace Farms in New Canaan, Connecticut.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of A landscape painter at Grace Farms in New Canaan, Connecticut

A landscape painter at Grace Farms in New Canaan, Connecticut.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of The building's reflective roof appears as a river below the feet of visitors on the hill.

The building's reflective roof appears as a river below the feet of visitors on the hill.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of The cafeteria of <i>The River</i> Building at Grace Farms.

The Commons of The River Building at Grace Farms.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of The below grade basketball court of <i>The River</i> Building at Grace Farms.Photo of The below grade basketball court of <i>The River</i> Building at Grace Farms.

 

The below grade Court of The River Building at Grace Farms.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Profile of the roof detail at Grace Farms.

Profile of the roof detail at Grace Farms.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of The building's wooden soffit provides a contrast to its reflective aluminum roof

The building's wooden soffit provides a contrast to its reflective aluminum roof.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Grace Farms roof winds its way up the hill

Grace Farms roof winds its way up the hill.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Grace Farms, designed by SANAAPhoto of Grace Farms, designed by SANAA

 

Grace Farms, designed by SANAA.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Grace Farms, designed by SANAA

Grace Farms, designed by SANAA.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Grace Farms roof has a warm soffit manufactured in wood

Grace Farms roof has a warm soffit manufactured in wood.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Grace Farms, designed by SANAA

Grace Farms, designed by SANAA.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Sciame managed the project, and Zahner worked with Dahill , who provided the waterproofing for the roofing components.

Zahner's Design Assist team was brought into the project for their expertise in engineering and manufacturing systems for custom building envelopes. The panel system provides a subtle dual curvature, and yet consists of standard-sized sheets of exterior anodized aluminum. Zahner developed the roof in close collaboration with the architects, who provided feedback and requirements for its aesthetic performance.

The decision to allow the the aluminum roof panels to overhang the building's edge created an intriguing aesthetic effect. Because of the way that the aluminum interfaces with the building's edge, the spacing between panels becomes visible against the sky above. In addition, the void between two panels is further accentuated by the shadow it yields. The shadow provides a kind of sun dial, creating diagonal marks across the building's profile, visible in many of the photographs of the building above and below.

Creating the Grace Farms dual-curving serpentine Roof

Normally on a roof with dual curves, Zahner would develop a custom system using ZEPPS® to achieve the complex curves. However, for the Grace Farms project, the dual curvatures of the roof were subtle and didn't require dramatic curves. So the engineering team at Zahner developed a light-weight system to achieve the dual curves, without the need for a custom ZEPPS® specification.

Photo of Detail of the custom edge on the Grace Farms roof The roof's panel attachment system was designed with a slot to absorb the curvature between the aluminum skins. A small amount of the subtle dual-curve was calculated and generated from each joint. In other words, the slot provides the curvature, so that the architecture's curves are actually achieved in between the aluminum skins. This creates the visual nature of a dual-curving roof, without the need for highly custom panels.

The custom roof system includes several custom aluminum extrusions, which form a channel system between the aluminum skins. Within this channel, a floating aluminum plate snaps into place, which provides a smoother visual transition between the aluminum panels. This custom roof system also allows for a standardized aluminum plate, 20' in length. The only custom roof panels required are along the roof's edge, which were cut at custom angles to provide the roof's contoured edge.

Zahner field installers were also involved in putting together the system, and provided feedback to the engineering team in Kansas City. From the installer perspective, the system was also simple to install, and provided flexibility for the field operators who put it together.

Photo of Detail of the panels to create the dual curve roof on Grace Farms

Detail of the panels to create the dual curve roof on Grace Farms.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Installers place the structural steel supports for the Grace Farms roof

Installers place the structural steel supports for the Grace Farms roof.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Roof detail for Grace Farms, designed by SANAA

Roof detail for Grace Farms, designed by SANAA.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

The sliver of light which passes between the panel's void provides a unique aesthetic effect, appearing as a sharp diagonal line between the shadows. This sunbeam's angle changes as the sun passes across the sky.

Photo of Roof aerial during construction for Grace Farms, <i>The River</i>Photo of Installers lay the panels to create the dual curve roof on Grace Farms

 

Installers lay the panels to create the dual curve roof on Grace Farms.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Installers lay the panels to create the dual curve roof on Grace Farms

Installers lay the panels to create the dual curve roof on Grace Farms.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Roof aerial during construction for Grace Farms, <i>The River</i>Photo of Roof aerial during construction for Grace Farms, <i>The River</i>

 

Roof aerial during construction for Grace Farms, The River.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

The building is expected to receive a LEED certification. "Our goal with the River is to make the architecture become part of the landscape. We hope that those who are on the property will have a greater enjoyment of the beautiful environment and changing seasons through the spaces and experience created by the River." — Sharon Prince, Grace Farms Foundation President.

Photo of Grace Farms, designed by SANAA

Grace Farms, designed by SANAA.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Grace Farms, designed by SANAA

Grace Farms, designed by SANAA.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

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