Hawkes Conference Center - ABHA Architects

Winterthur Estate: The Hawkes Conference Center

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The Historic Greenhouse Range at Winterthur has been enhanced with the addition of the new Hawkes Conference Center; an elegant destination in a pastoral setting.

The Greenhouse Range has been at the heart of gardening activities on the estate since H.F. duPont’s lifetime. The Range has enjoyed a revival in activities and public access over the past five years beginning with the construction of the Brown Horticulture Learning Center. Winterthur’s desire to foster this resurgence, as well as amplify it, has led to the development of the Hawkes Conference Center.

The new Center is an adaptive reuse of the former soil-mixing and potting shed that served the adjacent headhouse and greenhouses. The project had a simple defined program: provide a comfortable meeting space for the Board of Trustees and supporting staff. In addition, in-house conferences will be held in the space, and it will be available for corporate rentals.

The essentially one-volume space is filled with daylight from a hidden clerestory, and by replacing previous doorways with unique windows and a glass entrance that looks out onto the garden and the remnant frames of the Greenhouse Range. Interior finishes of hardwood floors, acoustical plaster and field stone give the room a warm, comfortable and intimate feel.

A dominant design feature in the room is a beautiful carved wood table that seats as many as 36. With a front apron that flows and curls in sculpted wood, it was made from red oak that was harvested from storm-damaged trees on the estate. Fabricated by Van Heyneker Fine Woodworking of Mendenhall, PA., the hand-crafted table is also networked with voice, data and teleconferencing capabilities.

Building on a history of horticulture and design, the Hawkes Conference Center provides a new destination in Winterthur’s historic Greenhouse Range, and will serve Winterthur’s needs for generations to come.