The Grange at Fairfield Farm
The Hotchkiss School | Lakeville, Connecticut
Fairfield Farm at The Hotchkiss School immerses students in agriculture to instill a sense of local and global responsibility for natural resources through a program in which they grow, harvest, and process produce that will be served in the school’s dining hall. But the facility required a “grange” that could store, prep, and even cook the harvest that the students reaped themselves. By committing to architectural simplicity and putting the natural world first, the design of the grange has ultimately provided a focus for the entire school to enjoy and learn from the farm.
Inspired and informed by agricultural forms, a spacious porch serves as a learning environment, place to dine, and special event venue. A vegetable washing stand flanks the loading area from which produce is processed and stored. The main space on the ground floor can function flexibly as a food prep facility, kitchen, and Harkness-style classroom. Working closely with Hotchkiss’ food service provider, VMA was able to execute a design that would meet required national health standards and support programming. The highly-insulated, below-grade full basement functions as a root cellar; two of the three storage areas there maintain appropriate temperatures passively while one is a walk-in refrigerator.
The project’s success has allowed Fairfield Farm to grow beyond the original program by becoming integrated into the curricula of virtually every academic department, from the life sciences class that uses the farm as an outdoor lab, to the humanities that hold poetry readings and concerts on the porch.
AIA Connecticut Chapter, Design Award, 2016
AIA Connecticut Chapter, People’s Choice Award, 2016
SARA National Design Award, Award of Honor, 2019
Size: 4,500 sf
Budget: $1.58 million