A Landmark 19th Century School Is Reborn as a Sustainable Headquarters for an Environmentally Conscious Cosmetics Company

21st Century Technology

The headquarters also makes ingenious use of a variable refrigerant mechanical system and heat exchanger, which uses condensers on the outside of the building to distribute air inside via fan units as needed, but in a much more efficient way than traditional HVAC ducts.

The design retained and beautified the original maple flooring on the first and second floors. Jane Iredale also wanted the building to be full of natural light, which studies show makes employees more productive and aids in staff retention.

The design retained and beautified the original maple flooring on the first and second floors. Jane Iredale also wanted the building to be full of natural light, which studies show makes employees more productive and aids in staff retention.

“There’s no need to move large ducts and volumes of air through the space,” Croxton explains. “Therefore, we were able to retain the original geometries of the ceilings and the spaces without intrusion.”

The 19th century building also needed modern conveniences, including an elevator. But rather than trying to wedge the elevator or stairs into the old building, CCA created a new freestanding steel and glass circulation tower, comprising an elevator and staircases; the tower is connected to the original building via a bridge. “With the glass elevator on the outside, the building looks like a mix of real authenticity with a modern flair,” Iredale says.

Croxton argues there is no one correct approach for how to style an addition and that context is everything. He says: “We do a lot of renovation and restoration work. Sometimes
it is much better to take the new element and make it visible by the way it’s detailed and assembled, but to use a complementary material that doesn’t call attention to itself, so that it still is clearly of its own time, but it doesn’t become a strong contrast. In this case, the original building itself is so unique, with these enormous boulders for this whole first floor and then shifting to the large wood shingles and composition coming up to this very large eyebrow overhang, that there was no way—and we felt it would be completely inappropriate—to mimic that. We felt it was best to be as sort of spare and clean and, if anything, reflecting in the use of the glass, mirroring the natural setting and the building itself and really standing away from the building.”

The architects were also able to significantly increase the amount of usable inte- rior square footage from 12,000 to 21,000 square feet without expanding its historic perimeter walls by carving habitable space out of the basement (digging out perimeter walls to allow windows) and the attic.“It’s really the most architecturally dramatic space,” Croxton says of the attic, where massive skylights and a wall of new glass fill the area with light.

New Bonds

Since moving in earlier this year, Iredale employees have been quite happy with the new space. “Overwhelmingly, when outsiders and visitors come to the building, they’re just gobsmacked,” Jane Iredale says. “There are so many touches, from the lavender-etched glass walls to the way they were able to maintain the full height of the windows even with the infrastructure in the ceiling, and the way we were able to maintain the original floors. I don’t think there’s anybody in this experience that doesn’t love coming to work. Departments that weren’t interacting with each other are chatting and having fun. It’s a lovely bonding experience.”

What’s more, the company’s founder and namesake, a London native, believes historic building renovations, such as this one, have a value that can’t be fully assessed in terms of dollars or even LEED credits. “It just resonates with everything in my being, from the smell to the way the floors creak to the leaded windows,” Iredale says. “It puts things into perspective for you. The building has been standing for more than 100 hundred years. In Bryant, you know this was populated with kids. We left the marks to remind us there is history here and people grew up here. I love that feeling about a building, that I’m just a small part of a big picture. It keeps you humble.”

CCA believed it was best to design the building's addition in a way that was "reflecting in the use of the glass, mirroring the natural setting and the building itself and really standing away from the building".

CCA believed it was best to design the building’s addition in a way that was “reflecting in the use of the glass, mirroring the natural setting and the building itself and really standing away from the building”.

PHOTOS: TIM HURSLEY

Retrofit Team

Owner: Iredale Mineral Cosmetics Ltd., Great Barrington, Mass.
Architect and Interior Design: Croxton Collaborative Architects PC, New York
Structural Engineer: Robert Silman Associates PC, New York
MEP/FP Engineer: Dagher Engineering, New York
Civil Engineer: Forsight Land Services, Pittsfield, Mass.
FF&E and Colorist: Carl Black, Hudson, N.Y., (518) 929-3481
Landscape Architect: Okerstrom Lang Ltd., Great Barrington
General Contractor: Allegrone Construction Co. Inc., Lenox, Mass.
Mechanical/HVAC Contractor:M.J. Moran, Haydenville, Mass.
Electrical Contractor: Comalli Group, Pittsfield
Landscaper: Windy Hill Farm, Great Barrington
Wood Flooring Contractor: Shooks General Floor Sanding, Stockbridge, Mass., (413) 232-7982
Tile and Carpet Contractor: Mercier Carpet, West Springfield, Mass.
Fire-protection Contractor: Hampshire Fire Protection LLC, Westfield, Mass.

Materials

Metal Cladding: Alucobond
Aluminum Storefront and Curtainwall: Kawneer
Elevator: Otis Gen2
Lighting, Dimming System, Lighting Controls: Lutron
Window Glass: PPG Solarban 70XL Glass
Structural Glass: ISG
Demountable Partitions: Dirtt
Etched Glass: Skyline Design
Countertops: Solid Surface Silestone by Cosentino
Paints and Stains: Liberty Paint Corp.
Floor and Wall Tile: Lea Ceramiche and Ann Sacks
Marble: Blue Cloud Marble
Wood Floor Finish: Bona
Brick Paver: Hanover
Retaining Wall: Versa-Lok

About the Author

Brian Libby

Brian Libby is a Portland, Ore.-based freelance design journalist, critic and architectural photographer.

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