The Field School – Bathed in Natural Light

The Field School

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Jonathan Levi of JLA Architects called me up last October and asked if I could make it out to Boston to capture the new Field School in Weston, Massachusetts while the trees were still full in their fall color. Two mornings later, we were walking through the school taking note of all the primary spaces and discussing the objective to show students utilizing their new school. He wouldn’t give me specifics other than to say that he felt I did my best work on my own. One of the shots was of a classroom with a rear, whiteboard wall that opened up to a breakout room for small groups, beyond which was another full size classroom. The shot included approximately 40 people, most of which were 10 and 11 year old students. To add to that, the room had direct sun blazing in from the second tier of windows that brought in enough ambient daylight to fill every room of the school. My solution was to shoot the spaces with motion picture lights and use the shades to capture the students in soft light, then layer that with a version with the shades up to reveal the sunlight patterns on the walls. It was a 3 day process of exploration and execution with 2 assistants capturing over 40 views where 20 were selected for processing. Both the students and the teachers were remarkably helpful, accommodating and easily directed making for a highly successful shoot.

Forming the building’s public “core”, the study center, cafetorium, gymnasium and administration form a compact functional unit with ease of flexible access between them. Similar to many higher education campuses, the classroom wings flow out from the study center on rows which are punctuated by break-out spaces and access points to the academic courtyard with pedestrian walkway and amphitheater.

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