Sharon Prince is the president and founder of a private, non-profit organization called Grace Farms. They established the foundation in 2009 after they made efforts to save undeveloped plots in the local countryside. Sharon graduated from the University of Tulsa in Tulsa Oklahoma. A few passions of the Grace Farms Foundation Sharon worked so hard to build includes fighting to end child exploitation, violence against women and human trafficking. Besides Grace Farms, she is also on the board of Unchain which fights to put an end to modern slavery. She commissioned Pritzker Prize-winning firm to design their all-new River Building. Since its opening in 2015, the space has garnered several accolades for architecture including the AIA National 2017 Architecture Honor Award.
Grace Farms encompasses over 80 acres in some of the most coveted real estate in the region. The new center is located in a beautiful area of Connecticut, and cost around $120 million to complete. The firm Sharon hired to commission Grace Farms, was the Japanese firm Sanaa. The new ultra-modern site boasts a nature center, gym, ecumenical chapel, huge glass walls that widens at five glass points with vivid views of the surrounding forests. The Douglas fir beamed roof blends in with the landscape as it wraps around the 83,000 sq. foot building. A raised, wooden walkway spans 1,400 feet. Somehow, the building blends beautifully with natural surroundings. The Sanaa firm also remodeled several barns on the property which serve as different meeting rooms. After leaving the parking lot hidden behind a ridge, you first come to the “Sanctuary” which hosts Sunday services and seats 700.
The aim was to create a structure that could encompass nature, community, faith and the arts all in one location. After sifting through 25 different prospective architects, they chose the right firm to make Sharon Prince Grace farms Foundation a reality. In the absence of a main doorway, the site seamlessly melts into the natural environment around it. There are several walking paths that can bring you past ponds and wetlands. Grace Farms innovation speaks volumes to their goals and keeps their vision close at hand through inspiration the River Building puts forth and the dedicated work Grace Farms performs year after year.
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