Photo by Anton Grassl

Summer Star Wildlife Sanctuary

Boylston, MA

Market: Cultural




2015 Massachusetts Green Building of the Year Award, US Green Building Council, Massachusetts Chapter
2015 Engineering Excellence Gold Award, ACEC/MA
2015 Best Small Project Award, ENR New England
Summer Star Wildlife Sanctuary

Photo by Anton Grassl

Summer Star Wildlife Sanctuary
Summer Star Wildlife Sanctuary

Photo by Anton Grassl

As a gateway to the expansive forty-five acre sanctuary, the Trailhead House offers visitors an opportunity to learn about the area’s woodlands and wildlife.  Given the sanctuary’s focus on preserving the natural environment, the project team designed the building with an exposed structure and natural wood cladding that impresses guests while blending in with the surrounding habitat.  SGH designed the structure and consulted on the building enclosure.

Scope | Solutions

Since the structure is exposed throughout the building, we carefully selected member shapes and detailed connections to achieve DSK’s vision for the building’s aesthetics.  Highlights of the structural design include the following:

  • Creative wood framing for a feature Tree Room roof consisting of closely-spaced dimensional-lumber purlins crossing over engineered timber rafters, allows the framing to act as a two-way system
  • Engineered lumber combined with strategically located steel members permits long spans and large exterior overhangs of the roof high above the Tree Room gathering space below
  • Carefully placed “trees” in the Tree Room constructed from a steel core and clad in lumber taken from actual trees felled on site to make space for the building
  • Two types of custom-detailed, built-up steel columns minimize steel sizes, allow for simpler connections between the structure and the enclosure, and avoid the feeling of imposing steel framing
  • Complex structural layout with numerous transitions at changes in function or changes in framing direction
  • Three different types of lateral-load-resisting systems work in concert to support the design’s structural, functional, and visual requirements

In collaboration with Shalin Liu (founder and director); DSK|Dewing Schmid Kearns (architect); Klopfer Martin Design Group (landscape architect); and Consigli Construction Company (contractor)

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