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    Careful Conservancy

    by Lauri Puchall

    The Trustees of Reservations, one of the oldest land conservancies in the United States, is in the business of improving and preserving scenic landscapes in Massachusetts. When it came time to design an administrative center, the largest capital project in its 113-year history, the statewide nonprofit organization took pains to apply its own tenets of environmental stewardship.

    Given a large site and the conflicting directives of conservation and construction, HKT Architects Inc. broke up the massing of the Doyle Conservation Center to create what appears as a cluster of outbuildings auxiliary to a stunning natural setting in the town of Leominster.

    From the approach, one spies a red New England saltbox cottage. "Turn the corner ... [and] the articulation is quite modern, although the forms are traditional," says Jim Younger, director of structural resources for The Trustees of Reservations. HKT's 18,000-square-foot (1,700-square-meter) addition was completed in 2004.

    Practicing What's Preached

    What one cannot readily discern is that the new building consumes fewer resources and sits more lightly on the land than its conventional counterparts. Some of its high-performance technology, like the geothermal well, has been around for decades, but is only recently gaining acceptance in the United States. Many of the features that allow the building to leave a miniscule environmental footprint are literally buried below the surface and require ongoing management to keep them operating smoothly.

    The trustees and their 22 employees have deemed the new Doyle Conservation Center a success. Others agree. According to Younger, Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzorella commented at the opening ceremony on the overwhelming sense of calm one feels when inhabiting the new space.

    While the trustees had not originally planned to rent out the facility, it is in high demand by local groups. "Most of the events are not our own," explains Younger. Other land conservancies send groups to the center for training and seminars as well.   >>>

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    The Doyle Conservation Center in Leominster, Massachusetts, by HKT Architects Inc., is a model for construction that protects the land.
    Photo: Dan Gair/ Blind Dog Photo, Inc.

    ArchWeek Image

    Upper floor open offices with mechanically operated clerestory windows.
    Photo: Dan Gair/ Blind Dog Photo, Inc.

     

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