Bard College is a liberal arts college located in the Hudson Valley. Its rural campus occupies a former agrarian landscape on the banks of the Hudson River. As a result of our discussions with college administrators and students, we designed autonomous and intimately scaled houses for twenty students. These are organized to create a more comfortable, individualized and socially cohesive group than possible with traditional dormitories.
The new student residences are arranged on the site to create a controlled, residential quadrangle with views into the surrounding landscape. This is achieved by creating separate buildings with fluid spatial conditions between them. In addition, the corners of the new quadrangle are left open as the curving site plan blurs the distinction between the natural and built parts of the campus.
The light-filled ground floor social area contains a shared living space, study and kitchen. These are adjacent to the building entry and face onto the quadrangle. At the front of the building, a generous wood bench encourages informal gatherings and modulates between the scale of the quadrangle and the entry vestibule.
The stair hall is designed as the vertical complement to the ground floor social space. It is the most transparent part of the building and allows views through the landscape while giving glimpses into adjacent stair halls and corridors.
A geothermal well field provides ground water for water-to-air and water-to-water heat pump units. This strategy reduces energy consumption and provides quiet heating and air conditioning for student rooms and common spaces. Fresh air movement in common spaces is achieved without the use of fans as a thermostatically controlled ventilation louver at the top of the stair takes advantage of the thermal stack effect in the four story stair hall.