Bard’s newest residence halls house over 400 students across four suite-style dormitory buildings, utilizing a Passive House design that benefits residents through increased comfort and the greater community through a reduced operational carbon footprint.
All four dorms are Passive House structures, fulfilling one of the most stringent standards for a building’s energy efficiency. Super-insulated, the buildings can maintain a comfortable interior temperature using very little energy. Additionally, heating and cooling provided by a geothermal field helps the college achieve its greater goal of decarbonization.
Passive House structures have a reputation of lacking expression, as they must prioritize a tight building envelope over dramatic gestures. The Bard College Residence Halls subvert this expectation through moments of articulation and artful materiality. Recessed, triple-glazed windows add a sense of depth to façades and minimize thermal loss, while the buildings’ brick cladding becomes a canvas for expression. Surface texture is created by alternating recessed bricks with those pulled out from the wall plane to create contrast around windows and entrances. The result is an illusion of lightness created from a material better known for its solidity.
The dorms are located at the north end of campus near the performing arts center, and are complemented by an additional communal building, the Head House, which serves as a gathering and amenity space for students. The Head House is situated directly off the main path and the residence halls extend toward a forest that surrounds campus and the Catskill Mountains in the distance. While wet meadows occupy the outskirts of the site, dry meadows are present closer to the path surrounding the buildings. A central quad provides space for the student community to gather, where orchard trees are planted to provide ample shade.