Flansburgh Architects takes cues from wooden barns for dance studio in the Berkshires

Flansburgh Architects takes cues from wooden barns for dance studio in the Berkshires

American firm Flansburgh Architects has created a studio building for a performing arts campus in rural Massachusetts that is wrapped in warm-coloured wood and bands of glass.

The Perles Family Studio is part of the Jacob’s Pillow dance campus in the small, bucolic town of Becket – situated in the Berkshires region of Massachusetts. Each summer, the performing arts campus hosts an internationally acclaimed dance festival.

Encompassing 7,373 square feet (685 square metres), the studio building accommodates instructional sessions, rehearsals and informal performances. The facility has a central hall measuring 50 by 70 feet (15 by 21 metres), which is encircled by a series of more intimate spaces.

“As the largest building at Jacob’s Pillow, the studio was thoughtfully arranged like a barn with additions, including smaller spaces such as porches and sheds,” said Boston-based Flansburgh Architects.

“The flexibility of the space is supported by carefully chosen building materials that minimise sound overflow between studios.”

Exterior facades are clad in board-and-batten wooden siding, creating a “farm-like aesthetic”. Wood was also used for interior surfaces and exposed structural components – in turn strengthening the reference to barns and the countryside.

Ample glazing, including clerestories and a glazed cupola, bring in natural light and connect the building to its beautiful setting.

“Oversized barn windows and doors create a strong linkage to the Berkshires landscape surrounding the building, and a sense of community for dancers and visitors alike,” the studio said.

The building has a number of alcoves and overlooks for spectators, enabling them to view classes and rehearsals without distracting the performers. The facility holds up to 200 seats.

The team installed a concealed, underfloor heating and cooling system to help control temperature and humidity levels. On days with pleasant weather, operable windows bring fresh air into the studio.

The building is part of a strategic plan that envisions Jacob’s Pillow as a year-round venue for research, performances, educational programs and artist residencies.

Situated in the verdant, rolling hills of western Massachusetts, the Berkshires is well known for its cultural offerings. Other arts facilities there include the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, or MASS MoCA, for which architecture firm Bruner/Cott recently designed a sizeable expansion.