Frederick Gunn School – Thomas S. Perakos Arts & Community Center

  • area / size 32,000 sqft
  • Completed 2019
  • The S/L/A/M Collaborative completed the thoughtful space for the Thomas S. Perakos Arts & Community Center at the Frederick Gunn School in Washington, Connecticut.

    The Frederick Gunn Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center is a contextual response in scale and materiality that pushes elements from the prevalent styles including English Tudor and Shingle Style in a manner that not only respects the traditional vernacular of its surroundings but also celebrates the arts and creates more transparency on the front façade to invite natural light and capture the dialogue between the interior and exterior experience.

    Spaces are grand but engaging, continuously flexing between comfort, safety, openness, and fun, always with a nod toward the landscape surrounding the building. The team was able to create an elegant and sophisticated palette throughout the interior spaces, using responsible materials such as rich cherry wood, gray tack walls, and polished concrete. Some interior finishes and furniture are created from trees removed as part of construction and stone from local quarries ties the building to its context.

    The 32,000 square foot building, designed to LEED Silver Certification, is a visual and performing arts facility dedicated to transparency, inclusion, collaboration, innovation, and excitement – a wonderful blend of arts and activity spaces to benefit the entire school community and to welcome in the neighboring town community.

    The new 415 seat theater is host to the “all-school” gatherings, so critical to the well-being of the school, as well as performances from local and regional arts groups. The steep rake design of the theater is nested perfectly into the slope of the existing hillside and functions well to demure the large scale necessary to achieve the functionality of the theater.

    The geothermal system, radiant floors, photovoltaic and solar thermal systems, together with a high-performance envelope and durable materials, contribute to goals for energy efficiency and a long life. Trees removed from the site have been recaptured in the large Community Room and stone from local quarries ties the building to its context.

    This bold creation embraces the outward beauty of the campus, a co-educational college preparatory boarding and day school in Washington, CT, while serving as a fun and inviting backdrop for the creativity expressed inside.

    Design: The S/L/A/M Collaborative
    Construction Management: O&G Industries
    Photography: Christa Maull