Co.Design

Old Dairy Barn Becomes A Green Redoubt Of Design Ed

Save the jokes about going to college on a farm. This barn has a rapid-prototyping lab.

SUNY, or the State University of New York, is America’s largest public institution of higher education. There are almost 70 (!) SUNY campuses spread out all over the state, in the form of universities, technical schools, and community colleges. As the system expands, so do the building projects: At any given time, SUNY has several under construction--like this project, the new Design and Technology Center at Morrisville State College by Perkins Eastman Architects.

Morrisville is a small school about 90 minutes from the Canadian border that specializes in tech-heavy curricula. When the school expanded to offer architecture and design degrees in 2007, they commissioned Perkins Eastman to build a dedicated design building.

Morrisville’s longtime president always had a wild hair to renovate an old dairy barn on the school’s grounds (yes, it’s a rural campus). After running a series of feasibility studies on the existing structure, Perkins Eastman came up with a renovation scheme based on a modular spatial system--meaning the spaces can be expanded, changed, and reworked as the school expands. For now, the programs include studios, galleries, wood shops, spray booths, and a prototyping lab, all focused around a central core running through the spine of the old building. Sustainable features--like geothermal heat wells and low-VOC finishes--give the building a LEED Silver certification.

The building’s piece de resistance is its soaring atrium, nestled beneath the gables of the old barn. Its vaulted ceiling is framed with wood, using construction techniques similar to those used by ship builders. It’s a beautiful space--and maybe all that natural light will prevent architecture students from going completely insane.

[Images Copyright David Revette; Courtesy Perkins Eastman]

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