The Environmental Studies offices at Vassar College were a laboratory for Earth-friendly design and construction this past summer, and an upcoming celebration with New York City-based project architect Dennis Wedlick will include tours of the renovated facility. Wedlick will discuss "Visions of Sustainability" at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday September 24 in the Sanders Classroom Auditorium, with a reception and tours to immediately follow.
"Vassar has a wonderful showcase now for 'light harvesting,' sustainable materials, and a variety of other green building approaches," said professor Daniel Peck, who recently completed his term as director of Vassar's Environmental Studies Program.
Before launching his own firm in 1991, Dennis Wedlick was with world-renowned architect Philip Johnson for twelve years, on projects as diverse as a period Detroit skyscraper and the town hall for the Disney community Celebration, FL. Wedlick's firm has earned numerous honors, including two awards from the American Institute of Architecture for residential design. But their expertise in sustainable solutions, including "net positive" designs that produce more energy than they use, is what Vassar sought most of all.
"We only had a limited space, and the college asked us to speak as strongly as possible about designing with both the internal and external environment in mind," according to Wedlick.
Through "light harvesting" the offices now maximize natural light, and use overhead lighting fixtures that automatically compensate over the course of
the day. Recycled building materials, odor-free paint, and solar powered fans also typify the renovation, which was handled by Kirchhoff Construction of Pleasant Valley.
Wedlick also considered it a "breakthrough" to incorporate environmentally-themed graphic elements into the renovation. Hudson Valley landscape photographs by William Cliff were imbedded into cabinetry and custom furniture, while words and formulae important to the environmental disciplines were silk-screened onto the office's interior glass partitions.
Vassar's Environmental Studies Program has its offices in the 102-year-old New England Building, which offered the project the added challenge of upholding historic architecture. "We really stripped the space down to its bones and listened to what the building had to say. When it said 'don't go there,' we changed our plans," explained Wedlick.
For additional information, contact the Environmental Studies Program at 845-437-5430. Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact Cathy Jennings at (845) 437-5370, as far in advance as possible to request appropriate and reasonable accommodations.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.