Art of Space,
Other green points are achieved by using wood flooring from sustainably harvested forests; a rainwater-collection system that averts runoff and stores water to nurture landscaping plants; and a triple-filtration system that will clean both gray water and black water enough to be used on academy gardens. “We’re working with landscape designer Christie Green on plantings that are indigenous and xeric,” Jaggers said. “We want to restore the landscape, and in the future we want to have programs that are related to the land.”
Two of the most obvious architectural highlights are the barrel roof on the Academy Center and deeply cantilevered roof elements for portales on the guest units. The cantilevers — thick black-edged slabs with natural-wood decking underneath — extend horizontally from the building masses, creating outdoor-living spaces while advancing the idea of clean, contemporary architecture.
“We wanted to work with Spears to co-create buildings that both held the environmental consciousness and are beautiful and really contained our work, which is very deep with teachers, with leadership students, with organizations,” Jaggers said. “It’s important we have spaces that allow for the depth of that work, so they have to be well soundinsulated.” Leriche pointed, as an example, to “a very interesting floor-ceiling assembly” between the main function space on the second floor at the front of the Academy Center and the Seton Gallery below. From the top down are a mesquite-wood floor, a Warmboard subfloor incorporating radiant-heat tubing, plywood floating on neoprene discs 12 inches on center for sound insulation, the 4.5-inch concrete floor, a metal deck, beams, 10 inches of insulation, two layers of gypsum board hung on vibration-isolation clips, and then an attractive wood-slat ceiling.
Each of the major rooms has a vestibule to create a sound lock. And Leriche mentioned a high-efficiency acoustical caulk used at ceiling-wall and floor-wall joints and at pipes, electrical boxes, and other penetrations. Among the aesthetic elements are hard-troweled plaster walls by GMB Construction Old World Plaster, Santa Fe; doors by Spanish Pueblo Doors, Santa Fe; and a two-story lobby waterfall designed by academy vice president David Gordon and made by Roman Fountains, Albuquerque.
Two exceptions to the use of insulating concrete forms for walls are an adobe multipurpose room and a circular adobe chapel for meditation and contemplation. Occupying the open end of a U-shaped courtyard, the two-story meditation chapel is an anchoring form in the Academy Center’s assemblage of masses.
The organization hopes the facilities will be ready for use in February 2011. The project has taken longer than anticipated, but loan-stingy banks are not to blame. The facility is being built with philanthropic support, so no construction loans were necessary. “In a time when the economy is down, there is still a lot of money to support changes in education and learning,” Jaggers said.
Leriche is happy with the way the Academy Center and other buildings nestle into the landscape. Part of that successful design, she said, came from the involvement of feng shui practitioner Valmai Howe, who aimed for a harmonious layout of building functions and use of the various building materials. “I think the buildings come out better than we draw them — or at least when I draw them. You have to be able to visualize it,” Leriche said, then quipped: “That’s why a lot of architects are left-handed.” Leriche has noticed that a disproportionate number of architects are southpaws, and she’s one of them.
“I am very intrigued by the human brain and why no one understands or sees things the same way or learns the same way,” she said. “Visualizing three-dimensional spaces is challenging for many people. Architects, whether left-or right-handed, need to be able to see three-dimensionally in their minds and turn things upside down, backwards, and inside-out. Well-designed spaces feel good spatially and are key to a building’s success.”