You are here

Modular Retreat

Architect Jim Garrison of Brooklyn-based Garrison Architects was asked to design a lakeside retreat for visiting families at a boarding school for troubled teens, Star Commonwealth, in Albion, Michigan. To drastically reduce academic interruption and cut site noise, Garrison decided early on to create an 1,100-square-foot modular building dubbed Koby, with two bedrooms on opposite sides of the structure and a common dining area in the middle “as a therapeutic space for families to gather and eat together.” The retreat, which was manufactured by Kullman Buildings (founded in 1927 for the purpose of building prefab steel-and-glass diners), takes on an X formation, with one end of the X equipped with floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking the water. “It’s quite a bucolic site,” says Garrison. “We related the building to both the lake and the gentle slope of the land, and created an opening in the center of the X that makes the building seem larger and allows reflective light in."

Manufactured entirely offsite at Kullman’s 180,000-square-foot factory in New Jersey, the building was placed on its concrete foundation in one day.

With the students’ well-being in mind, Garrison employed healthy, high-quality FSC-certified maple for the floor, ceiling and walls, cedar for the exterior, recycled porcelain floor tile, an EcoSmart alcohol-burning fireplace, high-recycled tubular steel framing and low-E coating glass. “We define health as the obvious physical qualities of good air and cleanliness, but health is also a matter of attitude, sunlight, cognition and sensory release all working together,” says Garrison. “A California utility company did a study in which they measured cognition in different classroom settings, and found that cognition increased 7 percent with natural light, and 15 percent with natural light with a view. We think of health as a baseline issue, but it has great deal to do with the quality of our environment.”

Categories: is your online home in the modern world. Join us as we follow our team around the globe on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Want more? Never miss another word of Dwell with our free iTunes app.


Add comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
Try Dwell Risk-Free!
Yes! Send me a RISK-FREE issue of Dwell. If I like it I'll pay only $14.95 for one year (10 issues in all).