A private art collector wished to transform his rural estate-- a historic farm in Baltimore County-- into a place to entertain and display his growing collection. The existing buildings formed a charming campus: a long, winding approach road, cultivated gardens, open meadows, a main residence and a series of outbuildings, the most prominent of which was a near-ruin of a barn with weathered slats sitting on a stone foundation wall. The challenge was to maintain the natural character of the complex and at the same time to transform the complex into a place of the highest sophistication to show off some beautiful works of contemporary art.
Our solution was to work within the existing buildings and make them work together: to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. We suggested making the barn the art gallery and connecting it through a landscaped courtyard to the main farmhouse. The client liked the idea but wanted to maintain the historic character of the barn.
Our solution was to let the existing barn structure remain as a ruin, while a pure glass volume constructed within it highlights the art collection, the surrounding historic structure, and opens to the landscape beyond. Ancillary programs include an eat-in kitchen with fireplace, guest quarters, exercise room, office, and storage space.
Even art collectors have budgets, though. Originally, we worked with a construction manager, but the 60% cost estimate came in too high. In response, we went through a precise round of value engineering and went to traditional design-bid-build. The winning bid came in exactly on budget.