Atwater was built as the second of five residential commons projected for the campus. Modeled on the concept of the houses at Harvard and the colleges at Yale, each commons combines a broad range of residential types with dining, social, study, and dean's facilities around an open green. Unlike their historic prototypes, however, these complexes are not tightly interconnected and introverted but continue the open texture of the campus and its sense of individual building blocks in a landscape. At Atwater the placement of senior housing plays off existing buildings—notably Le Château and Coffrin Hall—to create a commons green that preserves the northward view corridor from Le Château. The new dorms respond to the local context, adapting the entrance pattern and exterior vocabulary of Painter Hall (AD30.1) while putting historic chimney forms to new use as ventilation shafts. These serve the college's goal of sustainable construction, facilitating summer comfort without the use of air-conditioning. The oval dining pavilion focuses major diagonal movement across the green while benefiting from peripheral service access, southeast exposure, and distant views to the Green Mountains. Its light, angled structure plays with the textures of the grove against which it is set. The green roof and interior use of certified green wood reflect concerns of sustainability.
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