For Father’s Day my family and I decided to take a trip to Grace Farms in New Canaan, CT for our architect dad. A former 80 acres horse farm, Grace Farms was transformed into essentially a community center – but one like no other. Built by the renowned Japanese architecture firm SANAA, the five circular buildings that make up the center are referred to as the “River”. Meant to integrate into the land and its natural surroundings, the buildings are all interconnected by walkways and courtyards and weave in and around the landscape, like a river. With large glass-wrapped windows in each of the buildings, one can see through to the outside, and the beauty of the country setting, at any given point. The buildings, with their roofed walkways leading to one another, almost seem part of the landscape, which is the premise of the project.
It’s hard to say how many people visit Grace Farms for its communal offerings vs. how many people, like us, visit it to see the architecture and explore the grounds. It seemed most people there, some with kids as well, were visiting for the same reason we were – to check it out. The communal spaces – the 5 buildings – are (in order of the spiraling river): the Sanctuary (amphitheater, as well as non-denominational church on Sundays), the Library, the Commons (dining room), the Pavilion (welcome center) and the Court (gymnasium and rec room). We walked through all of them, making longer stops at the Court and the Sanctuary. There is a big basketball court in, and hence, the “Court”, where my husband played some b ball with the girls. It also has a side rec and media room, where he played fuzz ball as well (I was all the while snapping away both inside and out). The Sanctuary, at the opposite end of the River, and atop a small hill, was another hit, just for its sheer beauty and stunning views of the surrounding land.
Grace Farms is a perfect example of art meets nature, always my favorite crossroads (to see my post on Storm King Art Center click here), so for me, I really enjoyed it. Should you take the kids? Why not. If you’re familiar with my blog, then you know that I always say where I go, the kids go too. There’s usually something they can find entertaining. And here they did. They liked following the River and discovering what was next. The loved the Court. They even found a chess table outside where my older daughter played a game or two. Was it the most exciting place they’ve been to? Of course not. But we timed it well and didn’t stay too long so they never got bored. But long enough for us the adults to be able to see something we’ve been wanting to see all spring. To us, it was worth the 45 minute drive. It was hot and humid that day, so we didn’t do it, but if you wanted to there are trails you can walk along as well to really soak up the back country scenery. Usually my girls are up for that kind of thing, so perhaps this fall we’ll go back again and walk the trails and see Grace Farms in a different season, with a completely different look.
Grace Farms, 365 Lukes Wood Road, New Canaan, CT, 06840. 203.920.1702 Admission: Free. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Sunday 12:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Monday closed.