Studio Hillier

Studio Hillier

Princeton, NJ


Solebury School Abbe Science Center

The Solebury School is a private boarding and day school for grades seven through twelve. It is located in the historic rolling hills of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in the town for which it was named seventy-five years ago.

A scenic drive along the Delaware River, from either Manhattan or Philadelphia takes barely more than the time it takes to have lunch. Yet in spite of its proximity to these urban centers, the campus strikes a dramatic contrast to the pace and congestion we know as modern life.

Graced by century-old oaks and willows, the campus is a rustic agrarian village built around the original farmhouse, barn and outbuildings of the farm it once was.

During the first half of the twentieth century, one-story buildings of modest construction were added to meet the demands of a growing enrollment. Today, Solebury School serves a coed, international student body of over two hundred students.

The first modern building on the campus, the Abbe Science Center is shaped by its site and the culture of the school. Its program of four science labs with combined classrooms and four mathematics classrooms was designed to meet the highest competitive standards in pedagogy and technology, including sustainable design.

The culture of the school is one with its environment. Physical connection and views to the outdoors are sacrosanct; the outdoors provides the "corridors" between classrooms. Abbe Science Center is a one-story, L-shaped building that exploits the N-S and E-W axis for introduction of daylighting and passive solar design. At the elbow of the building is a two-story open area, which serves as a student study lounge.

The building is sited in the center of the campus in a naturally sloping grade allowing the floor elevation to match that of the neighboring buildings.

The building is constructed on a steel frame and is exposed throughout the interior spaces. The building is clad in a natural cedar "corn-crib" modeled after the familiar farm icon, and panelized to accept ten-foot high sliding glass patio doors.

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Status: Built
Location: Solebury, PA, US
Firm Role: Architect