Hidden amongst the trees...

Thursday 13 Oct 2011

New research campus in residential area blends into landscape through sensitive colour choices

A primary design challenge for the new Hillside Research Campus – a cluster of six laboratory buildings totaling 100,000 sq ft, or the equivalent of 40 new homes – was to fit into the ethos of Laurel Hollow, an upscale residential community on Long Island’s north shore.

Likewise, the complex had to nestle demurely next to its colleagues at the venerable Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where it expanded research capacity by 40 percent. Through the use of colour, form and siting, the result would represent a new campus palette and aesthetic – while simultaneously appearing as if it had always been there.

Colour was crucial to achieving these design goals: Infusing each structure with its own identity, while ensuring that together the buildings continued the well-established 'village of science' character of the campus; masking the size of the project to tony neighbours across the harbour, while providing a calming vision of autumnal colours year round, and distinguishing Hillside Campus from the glassy, monolithic and unimaginative development typical of large research projects.

Muted blues, reds, browns, tans and greens dapple across the hillside to integrate the buildings with the landscape, much like a field of flowers where each variety is distinct but together they form a unified tableau. The more subtle earth tones were used higher on the hillside to mask the scale, while slightly more expressive blues and reds highlight buildings in the foreground. As a result, although a departure in many aspects – size, colours, density and complexity – from new and renovated buildings on the 116-acre site, Hillside Research Campus succeeds in meshing decorously with its environs, both built and natural.

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