Landscape

Surrounded by 140 acres of expansive lawns, meadows, and walking trails, the Clark is located in a setting of profound natural beauty. The windows of its galleries afford views of the surrounding woods and fields, adjacent farm pastures, and a nearby lily pond. Walking trails traverse the property, including trails up historic Stone Hill, which offers a spectacular view of Williamstown and the Green Mountains of Vermont to the north. All walking trails are open and accessible during our campus expansion program.
 
Picnic tables and benches dot the property, enabling visitors to pause and enjoy the surroundings, and the expansive South Lawn provides an inviting space for free outdoor band concerts and family festivals.

The focal point of the new main campus is the three-tiered reflecting pool, which unites the surrounding Clark Center, Museum Building, and Manton Research Center with the natural setting. Water cascades through granite stepping-stones from one pool to the next, and then wells up into a garden pond at the beginning of the woodland trails near the edge of the forest. The uppermost level of the reflecting pool abuts the Clark Center and creates a visual connection to the wetlands and woodland beyond. Lawn walks and embankments thread between the pools, which tie the lawns of the central campus to the sweep of Stone Hill meadow and the intricate network of intermittent streams that lace the site.

The reflecting pool, which holds 361,845 gallons of water and is 13.5 inches deep, is at the heart of an integrated hydrology program that significantly reduces the Clark’s consumption of natural resources and enhances its land management practices. Other key elements of Reed Hilderbrand’s landscape design include substantial new plantings of native species, including some 1000 trees, and the concurrent removal of invasive plants; expansion of and upgrades
to the existing network of walking paths and trails; a new entrance drive; and landscaped parking areas that accommodate 340 vehicles and feature pervious surfaces for rainwater and snowmelt harvesting.

“Our design for the final phase of the campus brings the landscape into exemplary alignment with the Clark’s commitment to stewardship,” says Gary Hilderbrand. “The beauty of the reflecting pool and surrounding lands are certainly important, but we’re extremely satisfied with the knowledge that we have evolved, over the past ten years, a complex landscape that reflects its cultural roots in the Northern Berkshires and amplifies the natural processes that shape its topographic and spatial beauty.”

Sustainability

Sustainability was a high priority in the Clark’s campus expansion and renovation project. The reflecting pool that is the centerpiece of the redesigned campus, while aesthetically entrancing, also is part of a complex hydrological plan that serves the entire campus and reduces water consumption by one million gallons per year—a reduction of 50 percent. Water levels in the pool are maintained by balancing rainfall absorption with fluctuations due to evaporation; water-permeable parking surfaces capture rainwater and snowmelt, feeding an in-building reservoir that flows into the reflecting pool to maintain appropriate water levels. Downstream discharge is biologically cleansed in the lowest of the pool’s three tiers and its constructed wetlands, assuring that no contaminants enter the brook that flows across the lower campus. The pool also connects to cisterns fed by rooftop collection basins that capture rainwater for use in the campus’s cooling tower and reservoir. Nonpotable graywater is utilized for plumbing and irrigation, and parking surfaces are water-permeable to facilitate rainwater and snowmelt harvesting.

The ground-hugging Clark Center absorbs heat through its thermal mass. A series of seven geothermal wells installed on the campus reduces the Clark’s consumption of electricity and heating resources by 28 percent.

These programs, coupled with green roof areas on the Clark Center and the use of green materials (including LED lamps, a Lutron dimming system, and FSC-certified oak flooring) in the building projects, herald a new level of environmental stewardship and are designed to qualify the Clark for a LEED Silver Certification.