On a recent trip to California, I had the pleasure of stopping by one of our project sites in Tuolumne County to check its construction progress. The contractor, Crocker Homes Inc., recently began the foundation work for a new residence at Seven Legends Ranch, which looks fantastic. What a view! When completed, the ranch’s program will include a main residence, a six-stall barn, and a guesthouse, all of which will incorporate heavy timber and western red cedar siding. We’re very excited to watch the progress continue and hope that the owners, at this same time next year, will enjoy their new home while relaxing in the Sierra Foothills and enjoying the breathtaking views of the snow-capped peaks of Yosemite National Park in the distance.
I thought this short piece about the Baghdad Equestrian Club by NPR’s Peter Kenyon is worth sharing. I’ve always enjoyed a day at the track and think it’s a tradition worth saving. For that reason, it’s uplifting to hear that, despite the turmoil that has pervaded the lives of Iraqis over the past several years, a day at the track can provide Iraqis with the same sense of escape and excitement as it does for me and others the world over.
The latest newsletter from Field Sport Concepts, a group of affiliates devoted to rural land conservation of which we are members, features Oakhaven Farm in Austin, Texas. This Blackburn-designed farm includes a 16-stall barn, open and enclosed arenas, and related structures. The vernacular of the area inspired the use of local materials, such as its “Austin Stone,” while the deep trellis provides a bit of shade for the horses and owners.
I posted these photos on our Facebook Page (so many social mediums, so little time!), but want to put them here as well. Blogging is my method of choice, in any case.
Over the weekend, some of my staff and I had the opportunity to visit our friends at Ketchen Place Farm, a Blackburn project in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The farm is located just south of Charlotte, North Carolina, and is simply beautiful this time of year. Ketchen is family-owned and family-run, and they couldn’t be a nicer or more generous group of folks. I’d sincerely like to thank each and every one of them for their hospitality and for inviting us to join the festivities. I’d also like to thank them for asking me to give a short speech about the barn and its design—while I could go on and on about barn designs and this project in particular, I tried to keep it short and sweet.
The party was a tribute to the new barn, a couple of birthdays, an anniversary, the Kentucky Derby, and the birth of a new foal. To celebrate, there were plenty of Derby-hat wearers, equestrians of all ages, friends, family, and the stabled horses at Ketchen. It was really nice to hear the family talk about the history of Ketchen (it’s been in the family since the 1800s), watch a jumping demonstration by a young rider, walk around the barn, and ooh and ahh over the adorable foal.
My staff and I had a great time at Ketchen Place Farm’s second annual Barn Party over the weekend! I’ll post photos and give more details soon, but I just want to thank everyone at Ketchen for a great time and their incredible hospitality. Also, congratulations on the (I believe now) 5-day-old foal– she’s an adorable addition to the horse family at Ketchen.
We’re really excited to be a part of Kathryn Masson’s new book called Stables: Beautiful Paddocks, Horse Barns, and Tack Rooms. The book features stunning photographs by Paul Rocheleau and showcases a variety of stables across the United States. One of the stables shown is Sagamore Farm, the famous thoroughbred-horse breeding farm originally owned and operated by Alfred G. Vanderbilt, II.
Blackburn Architects had the pleasure of working with Sagamore’s current owner, Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, to restore and upgrade the facilities, which had fallen into serious disrepair from the former previous ownership. We provided architectural services to renovate two of the farm’s existing barns: the 16-stall foaling and 20-stall broodmare barns.
We’re pleased to announce that our line of pre-designed barns called Blackburn Greenbarns® is now available in ready-to-construct form. Starting with four models, each barn is designed to capture the power of the sun and wind to provide natural light and ventilation. While each barn can be modified to meet your design preferences and operational goals, the “starting point” concept designs minimize architectural fees normally associated with complete custom design.
For an architect, there’s nothing like watching a project grow from its infancy as just an idea to a concept design to an actual building. Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of overseeing the construction of a project in Marshall, Virginia that, just over a year ago, was an idea that only existed in its owner’s head.
The project, which consists of an 8-stall barn with a lounge, an attached indoor arena with an observation area, and renovations to the existing residence, is located in the middle of Northern Virginia’s hunt country. The style reflects traditional shingle style architecture with a New England twist, to honor the owner’s origins. The owner hopes to eventually install solar panels to provide self-sufficient energy to the family’s equestrian estate. Additionally, all of the farm structures will include greywater collection and storage.
There’s also a separate structure on the farm to house a professional telescope that, admittedly, is something for which I’ve never previously designed. It’s a dome structure located in a secluded area of the farm where there is little light to interfere with viewing. The telescope, which was a retirement gift from the owner’s former employer, allows the owner to indulge in his longtime fantasy of gazing at the planets and stars.
The owner, who first looked at properties in New England (where he resided for several years), decided to settle in the Northern Virginian area after finding it difficult to circumvent the zoning and historic restrictions that often accompany New England properties. Hunt country in Northern Virginia is the perfect setting for this horse enthusiast to custom design an equestrian facility that complements their lifestyle and needs perfectly.
I am including some photos of its progress. It might seem like it’s got a long way to go—but it should be ready to house horses around September.
I recently visited the project site where construction is wrapping up and thought I’d share some photos. While the landscaping won’t be complete for a few more months, things with the barn and arena are really shaping up.
OK, so I have to once again spread the word about Blackburn Greenbarns®, our pre-designed line of sustainable barns. We just issued a press release, which you can check out here. We are really excited to share these new barns with you in a “ready-to-construct” format. We really feel that all equestrians (and their horses too, of course) deserve to have sustainable barn options that are easy to modify, protect the health and safety of your horses, and are ready to construct quickly and efficiently (with the help of a licensed professional, of course).
We are sending out virtual invitations to all our friends, clients old and new, and family to take a look at our new website this Thursday when it will be complete. However, please feel free to visit the site before then at www.blackburngreenbarns.com. We hope you’ll like it and we hope to hear from you if you have any feedback, questions, or interest.
An associate of mine runs a great email list that features news and happenings in the equestrian community. The other day, the email contained an article from Maryland’s Prince George’s County section of The Gazette. Written by Zoe Tilman, the article is about a horse industry task force up for vote in Prince George’s County. With several states adding slots venues (such as Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware), the pressure is on the equine industry to take advantage of its potential revenue power, especially in regard to racinos—the combination of a casino with thoroughbred racing.
Tilman’s article points out that Prince George’s County isn’t necessarily well known for its equine industry, but that the County is interested in spreading the word in order to garner interest and recognition throughout the state. If approved (a vote is expected sometime this month), the horse task force will bring together “state and local equine industry groups and economic development agencies.”
While I believe racinos are fun and have their time and place, I do wish there were more public equestrian facilities and parks. However, it seems that many states are becoming desperate to get out of the red, so to speak, and look at slots/gambling as a way out.