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MYERS FOREST BUNKHOUSE

Client
Yale University
Type
New Construction
Size                  
2,000 sq ft
Completion
2013

 

Seeing the forest through the trees

One of the best things about camp is the sense of timelessness that settles in as people adjust their actions and rhythms to the simplified routine of life in the woods. Pretty soon, you feel like it could almost as easily be 1930 as 2013.

Which is why CWA wouldn’t dare mess with the simple, rural-cabin vocabulary of the Yale-Meyers Camp when designing its new bunkhouse and classroom building — not even if we could. What we did do was find a way to enhance what the site offered, through a few simple moves that don’t so much change appearances as they do perceptions.

First, we stepped the building down, but kept the pitch of the roof consistent. This addresses the site grade change, defines two distinct zones (classroom and bunkroom) within the structure, and coherence without. Putting the classroom at the lower grade allows it to be grander (higher ceilings). Its louvered cupola serves as both building marker and summer cooling device. The new common porch connects to the other buildings and provides space for the future outdoor classroom envisioned by the dean.

With the new building complete, so is the composition: a permanent, visual armature of structures around the small lawn creates a central “green” that re-establishes its spatial structure with a cozy sense of place amid the forest.

“It’s rare that an architect is asked to design a new, ground-up building for Yale University. When offered the job of building a new bunkhouse for the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies we jumped at the chance. So it’s over 80 miles away from central campus, deep in the Myers Forest, and has no plumbing or heating. Like Abe Lincoln, you have to start somewhere no matter how humble it may be.”
- Chris Williams

 

Backstory

The Yale-Myers Forest is a 7,800-acre forest owned by Yale University and administered by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. The Yale-Myers Camp provides housing, classrooms and support facilities to faculty and students who use the forest for teaching and research.

Context

Replacing an earlier version blown away in a 1950s hurricane, the new bunkhouse/classroom building occupies the middle place of an ensemble of two other buildings.

Nuts & Bolts

The new building provides sleeping quarters for sixteen plus classroom space for sixty.

What You Don't See

Bats — unless you look carefully. The dean was excited that bats might sleep in the cupola’s louver slats during the day. He said they would be a welcome addition to the birds that nest in the porch beams, the bees that build hives on the porches and the porcupines that occasionally pass under the buildings, scraping their quills along the underside of the floors.

Best Use

Sleeping soundly. Thanks to some specific sound proofing requests, the new bunkhouse is both “snore proof” and buffered from after-hours guitar playing.

Links

Team

CWA, Architecture
Morrissey Engineering LLC, Structural
Rundale Construction, Construction Manager