Greens Farms Academy
2006 Merit Award Landscape Architectural Design/Built Works
Connecticut Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects
When Greens Farms Academy (an independent school for grades K through 12) embarked on an expansion project for its lower school, our firm was engaged to design the landscape. The project site encompassed a long, linear outdoor space enclosed by the proposed and existing lower school buildings. Our design solution was to divide this space into a series of carefully proportioned and detailed courtyards that support a variety of activities.
We drew inspiration from the scale and materials of both the main building, a 1934 stone house designed by H.T. Lindeberg, and the courtyards and garden spaces that surround the building. These include the main entry courtyard, which incorporates bluestone and brick paving and the richly planted formal gardens, designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman, that have existed since the property’s days as a private estate.
While functioning as outdoor classrooms and assembly areas, the network of paths and larger paved areas also support the constant ebb and flow of staff, pupils and parents. In good weather, teachers can hold their classes in these spaces, while enjoying a secure and controlled setting. The larger areas can also accommodate small assemblies and school functions. Accessibility has been accommodated by subtle changes in grade that eliminate the need for ramps.
We used materials that respond to the historic context and hold up to the intensive use of these spaces. These materials include bluestone and molded brick paving, as well as steps and piers composed of bluestone and veneer stone matching the original building masonry.
The plantings in these courtyards are intended to stimulate the students’ imagination by providing a rich and varied planting palette. Emphasis was placed on species that exhibit ornamental characteristics throughout the school year – spring and fall bloom, fall foliage, and winter berries. Taking advantage of the protected microclimate, the courtyard plantings also include specimens such as crepe myrtle and southern magnolia that are not often found in Connecticut.
The completed design addresses the needs of both teachers and students for a functional and attractive outdoor learning environment while responding to and complementing the original historic setting.