There has been a lot of positive buzz surrounding the Grace Farms complex in New Canaan since it opened last October. I wasn’t quite sure what the place entailed, imagining a farm similar to Stone Barns in Pleasantville, NY. However, Grace Farms is far different from the old Rockefeller estate transformed to a farm-to-table fine-dining and agricultural center.
The Connecticut attraction has been described as a new kind of community space — a place where spirituality, beauty, the arts, nature, education, music, sports, dining, and fellowship can co-exist.
You won’t find a big red barn at this farm, however. The main structure — called the River — was designed by the award-winning Japanese architectural firm SANAA. This is actually several glass-walled pavilions connected by a twisting and curving roof, reminiscent of it’s name. By the way, MOMA is currently running an exhibition featuring modern Japanese architecture, in which images of the River are included — A Japanese Constellation: Toyo Ita, SANAA, and Beyond, until July 31st.
Each building within the River serves a purpose: there is a large chapel where Grace Community Chuch services are held each Sunday, a restaurant, the most gorgeous basketball court imaginable, a Japanese tea pavilion, a library, and more. Several major art installations can be found within these as well.
Lucky for me, friend Rachel Shorten works at the farm, and she provided an insider’s tour for me and mutual friend, Cindy Drahzal, this week. It was a gorgeous day for a visit, though I imagine most days here are still quite lovely between the spectacular architecture and surrounding landscape.
Highlights of the tour included the interesting temporary art installation “Landscape Continuum” by artist Kysa Johnson. It is a 360 degree drawing using acrylic ink on the glass encompassing the Tea Pavilion. The drawings depict the surrounding landscape in 1000 year increments starting with early life, and ending with an imagined watery landscape in the next milinium. As well, the individual etchings refer to scientific subatomic decay patterns — beyond my comprehension but still fascinating nonetheless!
Wish I had visited during the tea service, but I’ll look forward to this next time.
Lunch was delightful — counter service, but with well-prepared salads, sandwiches, and homemade cookies. Yum. And the setting could not be move lovely. Teens can partake in the basketball program Tuesday through Saturday, free of charge. And an ice-skating rink is in the works for the future.
To be honest, I’m still not quite sure how to describe this complex to friends interested, but I will still highly recommend a visit for the splendor of it all if nothing else. Consider combining it with a visit to another architectural masterpiece in town — Philip Johnson’s Glass House.