The Koch Center for Science and Technology embodies the Deerfield Academy’s commitment to science and math, and houses a unique combination of programmed and dynamic multi-use educational spaces. The building is organized around the Science Commons, a three-story curving central atrium, which is surrounded by open circulation with curving glass balustrades and illuminated glass floor assemblies at each level. The science commons features a unique skylight element called the “Analemma Skylight,” which is the result of collaboration with artist James Turrell and astronomer Dick Walker and is set into a constellation of stars on the ceiling. The skylight volume, between the roof-top lens element and the interior ceiling, is a three-dimensional ruled surface with an asymmetrical beveled form and is defined by site-specific sun-path curves from the summer and winter solstices. The resulting skylight lens focuses a ray of sunlight onto the interior curved brick “Analemma Wall,” which moves in a defined curve along the wall throughout the year.
Front was engaged by the facade contractor to provide detailed design, analysis, material evaluation and material specification for the glass floors, balustrades and skylight lens element, and also advised procurement strategies for the specialty glass products to remain within budget. A hardware-free system, deploying new adhesive technologies, was developed for the balustrade and glass floor assemblies, and the skylight lens design was developed to be insulating and weather-tight. Front also provided the project coordination necessary for the skylight lens installation, given the unusual geometry and size.
The design earned an AIA New York City Chapter project award and also earned LEED Gold certification.