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A new flexible campus hub rooted in science, math, and entrepreneurship that transforms the heart of campus

The Frederick Gunn School Tisch Center for Innovation and Active Citizenship

The Frederick Gunn School
Washington, CT
24,000 SF
Additional Services
Civil Engineering
Landscape Architecture
Completed 2023

Frederick William Gunn founded The Frederick Gunn School in 1850. He was an educator, abolitionist, and advocate for the outdoors, and he was responsible for great innovations in curriculum and student development. The school’s new building honors his vision.

The Center for Innovation and Active Citizenship unites a range of learning environments together in one integrated building that brings a contemporary expression to campus while maintaining the scale and integrity of its surrounding context. The building is sited at the edge of the campus Quad and within close proximity of Bourne Hall, one of the campus’ main historic buildings. 

Three pavilions shape the building’s massing and organize the program into three primary zones.  This approach reduces its perceived scale in relation to the campus’s adjacent historic buildings.  Materiality is inspired by the wooded and rocky nature of the site and the vernacular architecture of the campus and region, with a focus on a simple palette, uniformity of colors, and weathered/treated materials.

Sasaki also designed the building’s landscape, which creates new circulation paths from the campus’ two primary open spaces, the Glade and the Quad.  The footprint of the building is designed to preserve adjacent rock outcrops.

The building’s program transitions from more purpose-built spaces, such as labs for physics, biology and chemistry to more flexible spaces such as shared flex classrooms, the Entrepreneurship Center and the Center for Just Democracy.

Minimizing the impact on the environment was a top priority in the design process. Solar photovoltaic panels that provide sustainable energy and a geothermal well field that provides most of the heating and cooling, as well as a highly efficient envelope, contribute to bringing the project close to Net Zero.

Affectionately called “The Lizzie,” the Tisch Center for Innovation and Active Citizenship unites a range of learning environments together in one integrated building that will allow students and faculty to turn ideas into action.

The Frederick Gunn School celebrated the ribbon cutting for The Lizzie in April 2024.

For more information contact Vinicius Gorgati or Marta Guerra-Pastrián.

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