Education Green

Noble & Greenough School Castle Project Designed For Leed Gold

Dedham, MA—The Noble and Greenough School’s Castle Project repurposes and expands a campus landmark, a massive stone structure originally designed by H.H. Richardson and Frederick Law Olmsted, epitomizing 19th century American architecture and landscape design. Richardson and Olmsted sited the castle  on the edge of a rocky escarpment overlooking the Charles River.

The 19th century edifice is a mix of local granites and Brownstone trim capped with a red terra cotta roof.  A new addition matches the stone of the original Castle, using a mix of local granite and Brownstone trim for the building base, terrace wall, chimney, and fireplace. Exterior walls are sheathed in local slate. Both stone and slate are expressed in random sizes and multiple colors, deliberately chosen to create rich, warm tones and interesting, varied textures harmonizing with the original structure.

The addition preserves the granite outcrops and steep natural topography in order to restore and enhance the Olmstedian landscape design, and uses glacial boulders found on the site to enhance the impression that the addition, like the Castle, rises out of the rocky hill. Necessary demolition of a site wall yielded a stockpile of original stone, which was carefully salvaged, cut in half, and reused on the exterior walls of the terrace, constituting approximately 20% of the exterior wall area, Overall 90% of the exterior stone was salvaged.

Inside the new addition, a skylight reveals the original Castle stone exterior, now serving as the interior walls of the School’s dining hall. Large stone portals, cut into the existing Castle walls, were supported with steel lintels and trimmed with salvaged stone to effect a seamless transition between old and new. Public areas feature stone-like, recycled porcelain floor tile, patterned in two colors and textures to create visual interest and accentuate the flow of space from old to new. Kitchen floors are finished in quarry tile designed in a dual-tone, checkerboard pattern to recall kitchens of Richardson’s residential masterworks. Kitchen walls are sheathed in recycled ceramic tile set in a running bond pattern and light colored to brighten the vaulted workspace.

The school’s courageous decision to commit resources to renovating and adding to the Castle, rather than demolishing it, reaped substantial benefits both in the conservation of the embodied energy in the structure’s massive fabric and meticulous detailing, and in the long term preservation of the building’s historic importance for the School and for American architecture. Careful reuse of salvaged stone and recycled pre-weathered slate enhanced the look of the addition as well as limiting new material extraction and landfill disposal. The use of tile with a very high recycled content also furthered the environmental goals of the project.

The entire project, comprising both the total renovation of the Castle and the new dining addition, is designed to a LEED Gold standard. While the new addition nearly doubled the footprint of the Castle, the project results in no increase in overall campus energy use. This was achieved through the design of new energy conserving environmental systems, extensive new insulation in the renovation and high performance envelope design in the new addition. The Castle project is an exemplar of how to achieve the difficult goal of high energy and environmental performance through the careful repurposing of an important historic structure.

The project team included architectural firm Architerra, Inc., Boston; construction manager Shawmut Design and Construction, Boston; natural stone contractor: Kenneth Castellucci & Associates, Inc., Lincoln, RI

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