Atwater Commons-Beginning Plans

Categories: History

In the spring of 2001, KieranTimberlake was selected by Middlebury College as the Architect for the Atwater Commons project. They presented a Schematic Design Presentation that laid out the vision for the Atwater Commons project. We’ve reproduced some of these pages for the design competition and compiled them into a PDF.

This document is worth a careful read, as its design goals and intentions are still valid today, and could be a model for your entry. They envisioned “the core buildings form an outdoor ‘room’ with the two north/south ridges flanking a grass green…” with “…the perception of this section of campus is of buildings set in the landscape – broad lawns, sparely populated by a variety of trees and Adirondack chairs – with landscape continuity into the distance. The new buildings reinforce and participate in this setting.”

Or read the vision of the rocky ridge as seen from Coffrin: “Behind Coffrin is a path which is one of the wonderful, and we think undiscovered, moments of Middlebury College. A found space created by the building and the ridge it nestles against, the path has a contemplative, almost eastern garden serenity about it. Rock clefts afford moss and leaves to gather. Trees grow from the clefts. Birches and firs border the path providing natural cover for other fauna and flora. The path tumbles down the slope to the north, ridge to the east, building to the west, providing rooms with views into this space. This is one of the landscape moments that new architecture, in the Atwater context, might offer the core buildings and the College landscape at-large.”

Another post by Tim Spears will talk of the new role of the commons in the Middlebury community. Even the Master Plan calls for the decentralizing of the school, with each commons having a separate dining hall, and its own outdoor common area. Under the new economy, maybe this is no longer feasible, but still the landscape can speak to a commons area.

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