David Hertz Architects FAIA & The Studio of Environmental Architecture

Thacher Dormitory

Taking its cues from nearby barns and Thacher’s Western ethos, the new Lower School design makes the most of a magnificent setting, drawing on natural ventilation and natural light to maintain a strong connection with the outdoors. Also taking important design cues from a demanding end user, the building features materials, finishes, and a grassy-courtyard design well suited to the unique needs of the freshman boy. The new structure promises faculty members and students alike a comfortable living space that embodies and illuminates the environmental ethic taught through Thacher’s Camping Program. In addition to incorporating many “green” elements, the new structure will make use of building materials salvaged from its aging predecessor, an energy-inefficient and expensive-to-maintain dormitory completed in 1950.

Environmental Features

  • Concrete floors with embedded radiant heating
  • Energy-Efficient Metal roof that will last the life of the building and help collect water run-off for gray-water irrigation and fire suppression
  • Solar heated water for showers and washing machines with gas backup
  • Use of salvaged oak flooring and stone, reclaimed from the demolition of the other campus buildings
  • Non-toxic and natural paint finishes
  • Natural cooling through cantilevered roof and monitored clerestory window vents
  • Wide overhangs facing the central courtyard provide shade, privacy and rain protection
  • Energy-Efficient lighting sources

thacher dormitory

Nearby barns and Thacher’s Western ethos inform the aesthetic of this dormitory. The complex is organized as a square courtyard, fostering a sense of community among the students at this boarding school. The site slopes diagonally within the courtyard, and the roof planes descend from one corner down the perimeter of the square. Circulation occurs perpendicularly to this geometry, as people enter and exit through the sides. The dormitory embodies the environmental ethic inherent to the Thacher School’s pedagogy by fostering an indoor / outdoor lifestyle and being a model of sustainability for the academy. In addition to many green elements, the new structure reuses building materials salvaged from its predecessor.

Project Details

Year: 2008
Location: Ojai, CA
Typology: education
Program: dormitory with cafeteria
Size: 13,500 sqft
Sustainable Features:
  • radiant heating
  • long-lasting metal roof
  • water collection for irrigation and fire suppression
  • solar heated water
  • salvaged wood and stone
  • non-toxic, natural paint finishes
  • natural cooling via cantilevered roof and monitored clerestory window vents
  • energy efficient lighting
Visit: Thacher School