Urban Barn


Working with a modest budget of $230,000, the Urban Barn is a new live/work building located in a downtown neighborhood comprised of a diverse mixture of building types & scales. Positioned mid-block, the project lot sits between clapboard shotgun homes, brick mixed-use storefronts, and an early-century firehouse complex. Fronting the property, the city block is occupied by a steel tank manufacturing facility.

The 4,677 s.f. mixed-use project includes a ground floor office, two second floor residences, a guest suite, and an outdoor courtyard garden. For economy, the building utilizes common pole barn construction with pressure-treated wood framing arranged on a standard 12' column grid & prefinished, corrugated metal siding. To fit the various programmatic components within the simple building volume, the design employs a strategy of shifting the floor framing in height in order to interlock these spaces volumetrically without increasing framing spans.

In an effort to relate contextually to the disparate building scales of the neighborhood, the building exterior is subtly modulated to offer a range of spatial experiences that transition between indoor & outdoor, residential & civic, and public & private conditions. Spatial inflections to the building skin at the east & west facades frame monumental entry shutters that offer a more formal presence to the neighborhood. Pedestrian-scaled elements along the sidewalk, such as an elongated bench and an interpretation of the traditional storefront window, reinforce and encourage interaction with the community. In an area quickly burgeoning with shops, restaurants, artist studios & galleries, the building becomes a participant in an active "gallery crawl" tradition during evening hours, where the filigree detail of the entry shutters impart a lantern-like glow to the street.

Preferring common materials & finishes for economy, the design employs a consistent use of off-the-shelf elements to achieve a "custom" look. Circular fluorescent light tubes mounted to standard porcelain sockets simulate cherry blossom patterns, and are a nod to the flowering trees in the courtyard alee. Within the north interior wall of the office area, white painted vertical stripes in matte & high gloss finishes allude to the natural light often found filtering through traditional barn plank siding.

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