David Hertz, AIA
The Thacher School Lower Dormitories Project entailed construction of a student dorm, two individual faculty residential units and a commons building. The design also arranged for an interior courtyard and amphitheater to foster interaction among the students and faculty who reside on campus. The buildings are wood frame with a hard steel trowel stucco finish. They have Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS) for exterior walls and roofs with a Kinar-finished standing-seam roof. Exposed beams and posts, interior siding, and interior trusses are built from reclaimed lumber.
All-new utility infrastructure was provided, including sewer, storm drain, gas, fire service and electrical. The single-story student dormitory holds 30 individual residential units, two bathrooms and exposed concrete floors with radiant heating. A clerestory gable and unusual Dutch doors for individual room entry lend a distinctive appearance.
The 1,100 sf Commons Building provides space for recreation and study, laundry facilities and two common bathrooms with shower and toilet facilities in each. The two two-story, 2,400 sf faculty residences are three- and four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath homes with tuck-under two-car garages and Hardi Plank trim on the second story exterior. Luxurious finishes and bamboo hardwood floors are used throughout.
In addition to the challenges that accompany working on an active campus, this project had an elevation change of 13 ft from the lowest garage to the upper portion. Moreover, although the site was excavated in advance, the subgrade was found to be roughly 80% boulders, making it difficult to construct the finished pads. Some of those boulders were subsequently used as dramatic landscape accents. The project also included construction of associated site improvements such as concrete paving, masonry walls, AC Paving and lighting.