A ‘Green’ Palmer Center: Interior Designers Incorporate a ‘Denatured Forest’ Feel

April 5, 2019



by Len Lathrop
The rural nature of Hudson will be incorporated into the design theme for the renovated Palmer Technical Center at Alvirne Highs School while the needs of the students moving into the 21st century drive the project.
Decisions are being made as to what the interior of the center will look like and how these designs will support the students’ learning. The architectural firm guiding the staff, administration and the building committee, Lavallee/Brensinger, has been involved with the Alvirne project for almost three years, spending uncountable hours collaborating to formulate a vision of the CTE center and Alvirne High School. At the last building committee meeting in early March, the architects described the CTE as a “Denatured Forest,” and showed a design plan where many aspects of the Palmer Center relate to that vision. Not just trees of all sizes and shapes, but with the sunlight streaming through them and the colors they create, using granite in many outside locations to emphasize the famous granite rocks that rule New Hampshire.
Can you feel the forest in the studies of the Palmer Center? As nature is all around us, and, for the past 20 years, the Palmer Center has dealt with our forest, students have displayed that through their use of wood and metal and forestry and horticulture and livestock.
It is proven that students must be comfortable in their environment to do their best work and learn. This approach will become even more important as students race through the 21st century formulating new ways of understanding themselves and learning to the best of their capacities.
Let’s unwind the forest into colors and shapes, materials and space. The entranceways have steel trees that look like posts; large granite blocks that serve as barriers to prevent automotive accidents into the building; and seats for students and visitors as they wait to go into the restaurant or adult day care of the Palmer Center offices as can be seen in the rendering.
Before going for a look inside, remember this is a 21st-century structure. It will be a green building in every aspect possible. Think sustainable interior materials with high recycled content: sustainable flooring materials (renewable) with low-maintenance and long life cycles; high-efficiency LED lighting with energy-reducing control systems like occupancy sensors and daylight-harvesting features; high-efficiency mechanical systems to reduce energy consumption with increased natural light in all new areas; and durable exterior materials like brick and concrete with long life cycles. The exterior envelope exceeds the energy code by approximately 30 percent.
Before you look at the design renderings, go to the website links below for some of the products being looked at to make the center green:
While deconstructing the forest to find the CTE pathway, features used in the center include greens and earth tones. The architects envision hallways that have display boxes easily changable for student projects and natural light that is supported with glass walls enhanced by LED lighting coming from spaces where the fixtures cannot be seen. There will be pops of color going from the floor to the ceiling and walls. Natural materials will be showcased in greeting areas for both students and visitors.
As you look at the renderings, there are several that incorporate students’ safety into the layout from areas, in classroom called safe zones, where students can move to, which cannot be seen from the hallway. While glass can celebrate what is going on in the classroom, there will be shelter from danger.
Before you look at the design renderings, go to the website links below for some of the products being looked at to make the center green:
• Forbo (MCT,Flotex): https://www.forbo.com/flooring/en-gl/environment/how-it-is-made/ppogyf
• Crossville (porcelain tile): https://www.crossvilleinc.com/Resources/Sustainability/G2-Certification
• MDC Zintra (ceiling baffles):