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05.06.09

The Rosemount Center

One of Blackburn’s projects, The Rosemount Center, was in the news when actress Jennifer Garner visited the daycare and preschool facility to read and visit with students. The center was also recently honored by the Historic Mount Pleasant for the restoration.

The Rosemount Center

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04.27.09

Blackburn greenbarns: visit our new Web site!

In recognition of Earth Day, my firm announced a new division in design called Blackburn greenbarns. Starting with four ready-to-build horse-barn designs, we hope these barns are an affordable alternative to custom design. Of course, as the name implies, all the designs are green–in three ways: through passive design solutions, green materials and finishes, and additional design services to implement green systems such as solar panels. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts about greenbarns and our new Web site at www.blackburngreenbarns.com. Please visit it and let us know what you think!

John

We call this model "The Hickory." It is designed for warm climates to provide natural cooling and ventilation

We call this model "The Hickory." It is designed for warm climates to provide natural cooling and ventilation

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04.20.09

Stable Scoop Radio Show

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I haven’t forgotten. We’ve been busy developing a new project which I’ll share with you in a few days. We’re really excited about it and I’ll be interested to hear your (honest) feedback.

In the meantime, have you ever listened to Stable Scoop? It’s a show on the Horse Radio Network, which you can also listen to online. I was asked to be a guest for one of the shows. While I–like a lot of people–hate hearing my voice on a recording, I thought I’d share the link and introduce you to the show if you haven’t listened before. The two hosts, Helena B. and Glenn the Geek make for a pretty amusing show all-around. Just don’t mind the rambling guest architect!

Stable Scoop logo

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03.23.09

Have you seen this?

Ancient Origins Horse Diorama by Matt Shanley/AMNH 

 

Ancient Origins Horse Diorama by Matt Shanley/AMNH

 

Wayne Pacelle, of the Humane Society of the US, has a fantastic blog that I like to read whenever I get a chance. The other day, he wrote about an exhibit that just ran in Pittsburgh called “The Horse.” It ran in New York previously. Did any of you get a chance to check it out? I’d be very curious to hear your thoughts if you have. 

John

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03.04.09

Sagamore Farm

With the spring and the peak of the racing season–the Triple Crown–just around the corner, I’m thinking of Sagamore Farm, a recently completed project in Glyndon, Maryland. This historic farm was once owned by Alfred G. Vanderbilt, II and served as the former home of Native Dancer, Bed of Roses, and Discovery, who are buried at the property. The current owner, Kevin Plank, purchased the ailing farm with the intent to revitalize the racing industry in Maryland. It’s still a work in progress but well on its way.

There’s been a lot of talk about how to revive the industry and whether slots—something several states have picked up to gain revenue for their struggling budgets—has what it takes to recapture the public’s interest in racing.

Before

Before

With projects like this, it’s hard for me not to feel enthusiastic about the future of racing. Sagamore Farm was in a state of serious disrepair when we began work, but the broodmare and foaling barns have been rehabilitated to reflect the highest standards of health and safety for the precious horses that inhabit them while retaining the integrity of the legendary property. Details like the red roofs as part of the red, black, and white color scheme, as well as the old roof ventilators were important to maintain when adding elements to reflect its new chapter in ownership. Natural light and ventilation become center stage with the continuous ridge skylights and vents.

To see the “before” and “after” photos of the barns really makes me hopeful that something big really is around the corner for Sagamore and Kevin Plank. With a home worthy of its precious inhabitants, I can see the legacy of Sagamore Farm and its champion thoroughbreds continuing.

After

After

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02.12.09

Bank Barn Project: Under Construction

I mentioned one of our current bank barn projects in my last entry and thought I’d post a few photos. This project salvages a historic German-style bank barn that fell into serious decay. The barn is undergoing renovation into a private family entertainment space. Once completed, the barn will have two bedrooms, two loft-style dayrooms, 3.5 baths, a family room with a stone fireplace as a focal point, a large kitchen, and other amenities. It will be perfect for the owner’s adult children and their families to stay during visits, as well as serve as a gathering place for parties or family dinners. But for now, you’ll have to use your imagination because the work has just begun.

Before

Before

Before

Before

The first step toward converting the bank barn was to actually straighten and stabilize the entire structure. Then, due to local zoning issues, the barn was moved to a new location off the road. That was definitely an interesting sight for neighbors and passersby–a barn being carted across the road. Now that the barn is structurally sound, construction can commence. 

I’ll post more photos as the work continues.

Stabilizing the Structure

Stabilizing the Structure

 


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01.28.09

Jamaica: One Lucky Horse

Here’s a happy story from Wayne Pacelle’s blog for The Humane Society of the United States about a horse named Jamaica who escaped a trip to the slaughterhouse and went on to win the title of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Horse of the Year

 

Jamaica (Photo from Wayne Pacelle's blog)

Jamaica (Photo from Wayne Pacelle's blog)

 

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01.28.09

The Effects of the Recession: Share Your Experiences

Readers,

I’d really like to hear from you. The recent economic outlook is dismal. It seems I read a new piece of bad news each and every day. Like Monday’s article from the New York Times reporting 62,000 more announced layoffs across the nation and around the world. It seems that it’s going to get worse before it gets better, unfortunately. As reported by CBS News, President Obama “pledged a recovery plan ‘that is equal to the task ahead.'”  

I just listened to a seminar by an economist for the Association of General Contractors (AGC). The seminar depicts that though the beginning of a turn around is forecasted by late summer or fall of this year, state and municipal budget may economically lag behind because they have to operate from revenues generated– and the economy has to turn around before that can happen. That is, unless the stimulus package provides funding for state public projects. But any jolt to the economy soon will have positive results, in my opinion. Beggars can’t be choosers, right?

On a more optimistic note, we continue to receive calls from some clients who are interested in getting their projects designed and “shovel ready,” so they can take advantage of the low building costs before the “turn around,” and before increased building costs are expected to occur.  The economist for the AGC predicts lower costs in some construction categories of -4 to 0% range for 2009 and price spikes of 6 to 8% in 2010.

To many, this may seem impossible to even consider. To others, I hope this may be a piece of good news in an otherwise dreary situation.

Please write to me and let me know how you’ve been affected by these conditions. What have you had to scale back on? Do you feel optimistic? 

John

To feel free

To feel free

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01.28.09

Land Trust Alliance: Farm Bill Conservation Program

I’m back to thinking about land conservancy issues once again. The Land Trust Alliance (www.landtrustalliance.org) is an invaluable resource for conservancy issues from a government standpoint. On January 23, 2009, the LTA encouraged its readers to review and comment upon the Farm Bill Conservation Program Rules. These rules are published online and, according to the site, dedicate “over a billion dollars over the next 5 years for the purchase of easement on working lands.”

If you are a farmer or rancher and plan to keep your land safe for generations to come, this is a must-read. But, in a nutshell, the Bill offers a significant tax incentive for moderate-income farmers and ranchers who donate a conservation easement of their land. The law defines a farmer or rancher defined as someone who receives more than 50% of their income from “the trade or business of farming.”

The “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the Web site provides the most clarity. 

If you’d like to support the Farm Bill Conservation Program, here’s what to do, according to the LTA:

“Take action today by asking your Members of Congress to become original cosponsors of new legislation in the 111th Congress to make the easement incentive permanent. Senators can cosponsor legislation to be introduced by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) by calling Jo-Ellen Darcy at 4-3247. Representatives can cosponsor legislation to be introduced by Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) by calling Travis Robey at 5-3311…You can reach any member of Congress by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.”

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01.15.09

Land Conservancy and Equestrian Competition Space

Recently, a colleague sent me an email on the vulnerability of equestrian competition land in Kentucky. This got me thinking of land conservancy and how it relates to your farm as well. A number of equestrian projects I’ve worked on have been “given” to land conservancy or in some way placed under protection to keep the land as an “open space.”

It seems like this is becoming a good way to protect the land for horses, get a tax break while you’re at it, and further protect yourself from rising property taxes. Not only does land conservancy preserve your land from development, it protects the environment in the process—doubly so when green principles of design and sustainable practices are followed.

Land around metropolitan areas that could easily be consumed by more housing or shopping developments can be preserved as open space if owners are willing to place the land in a conservancy. While not of interest to those hoping to price out their land as soon as an offer is made—this is an option for those who have horses and other animals, farms, or just appreciate the value of untouched land.

Sometimes privately owned land can later benefit the public. For example, one of our current projects, Woodstock Equestrian Park in Montgomery County, Maryland was spurred by a donation to the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission. Through the combination of private donations—like the great piece of land as donated by Hermen and Monica Greenburg—and state funds, the M-NCPPC is now creating a public equestrian venue in the Woodstock Equestrian Park.

I’m only just beginning to delve into this topic, so I’ll be sure to post more thoughts later. 

For further information on equestrian land conservation, please visit the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource: http://www.elcr.org

It’s beyond last minute, but you have until the end of TODAY, January 15th, 2009 to complete the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource’s survey on the loss of land used for horse-related competitions. If you’d like to participate, the ELCR requests an email to info@elcr.org with the following information: the name by which the competition site or farm was commonly known; city & state; and type of competition held there, e.g. reining, dressage, eventing, roping, driving, polo, etc. 

According to the ELCR, data has been received by over 100 sources in over 24 states and focuses on equine competition sites that have been lost to development since 1997.

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