Summer Star Wildlife Sanctuary

Boylston, MA


place-making: Tim Hess, Design Principal for DSK Architects

the DSK team included David Chase and Chip Dewing


Consulting Project Design: Studio InSitu Architects, Inc

Interior Design: Studio InSitu with Tricia Upton Interiors



Builder: Consigli

Green Building Consultant: Marc Rosenbaum

Sutainability Engineers: The Green Engineer

HVAC Consultants: Allied Engineering

Lansdcape Architect: Klopfer Martin Design Group

Structural Engineer: SGH

Lighting Designer: Chris Ripman Lighting Design




In the new Wildlife Sanctuary’s landscape of modest hills, intimate valleys, and massive glacial boulders, Summer Star's Trail Head House houses an Art Gallery, Studio Space, an A/V Cave, and the grand-scale glazed Sanctuary Room for story-telling and small performances. The sanctuary and building are conceived and designed to convey the message that We Are One. The conditions that enable human life on earth are an insanely unlikely astronomical coincidence, and we tend to forget how delicate the balance of forces is.


While the commerce of popular culture pulls people toward touch-screens and the rhythms of a media-centric society, Summer Star’s mission promotes time spent in nature as nourishment for the human body and soul.


The Landing Eagle Trail Head House is a gateway to Summer Star’s loop-trail and the larger network with which it connects.  In that way, the building is a kind of embassy – to help conduct the interface of humans and the natural environment, preparing and orienting visitors for some time on the earth’s rhythm.


Comfortable human space is shaped and sheltered through emphatically gentle interventions on the humble landscape of the Sanctuary. A roof of deep earth cover will, over time, allow the forest’s present understory of low-bush blueberry to return above the galleries.

The materials and gestures of the tree room frame and amplify the beauty and inspiration present and native to this place.


Inspired by old pioneers like Malcolm Wells, and new initiatives like the Living Building Challenge, Summer Star’s values manifest themselves in the building’s photovoltaic arrays, thermal shutters, composting toilets, rain-water pool, and elsewhere.  USGBC LEED Gold Certification is anticipated.


The project has been published in numerous outlets including the July/August 2015 issue of Design New England magazine, and won the 2015 Green Building of the Year award from the Massachusetts USGBC.






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Studio InSitu Architects, Inc   63 Main Street, Maynard, MA 01754    978.461.6114

© 2014