David Lamb Photography
Awards:AIA WHV Honor Award, Learning by Design Outstanding Project
The objective of the new community room was to create a flexible gathering space, which replaced a limiting theater, with a space that could be utilized for the school’s morning meetings, assemblies and performances as well as indoor recess and athletic activities including gymnastics, karate and wrestling.
The 350-seat multipurpose room was designed in keeping with the architectural aesthetic of the Eagle Hill campus, which is on the grounds of what had once been the Marjorie Merriweather Post estate. The community room is both dramatic and warm with a circular timber ceiling and clerestory windows. The architecture captures the intimacy of the campus—with a 253-student enrollment—by creating a space that feels appropriate and welcoming for a group as small as 20 or as large as 350. Additionally, an expansive curved window wall blurs the lines between the picturesque, wooded campus grounds and the interior timber trusses while providing ample natural light. The window wall is shaded with acoustically conscious window shades that provide full control of the lighting levels to suit the needs of each specific performance or event. The addition of both fixed and telescoping seating addressed the critical design challenge of creating a dually functional space. The telescoping seating can be moved flush against the wall as required to create an open space that can be utilized for indoor recess activities, physical education classes and athletic events.
As part of the new community room a new lobby was created to provide a single point of entry as well as separate assembly space for events held within the community room. The new lobby also improves the flow of everyday traffic of students, parents and guests to the school and offers a more distinct and welcoming entrance to the main building. The lobby echoes the community room’s wood ceilings and wainscoting and the restored terracotta tile floor is a holdover from the days when the building served as a stable on the Post estate.