In today’s blog, our summer intern, Alexa Asakiewicz, shares her summer experiences here at Blackburn. Alexa is an equestrian (former captain of the Villanova Equestrian Team) and currently a graduate student at Rhode Island School of Design. This year she will be completing her Masters of Architecture degree. Alexa joined us from late May to August as an architectural summer intern. Her skills are exceptional; you can check out some of her work at www.alexaasakiewicz.com. She has been helping me put together the promotional campaign for my book, Healthy Stables By Design; updating our social media presence; and assisting with architectural projects. At this point, I’ll hand it over to her.
As a life-long equestrian and an architectural student, I have been following Blackburn Architects and their projects for many years. This summer, I was fortunate to work in the office and learn more about the practice and John’s new book. Immediately upon my arrival, John showed me his book and videos. From those, I began to further understand his natural principles of design (many of which have been shared on this blog).
I not only saw these principles in design projects I assisted with, but also learned how to share them with a public audience. I realized that in addition to design work, architects are tasked with marketing themselves. While helping John update and maintain the Stable Minded blog, website, and social media, I was fortunate to learn even more about the everyday life of an architecture office. I hope you all have enjoyed looking at some of the past and present Blackburn projects on facebook, pinterest, and Houzz, as well as learning more about John’s design strategies through the blog. I have and will continue to work on the blog and facebook throughout the school year, so check back often to explore our projects and happenings.
In assisting John with publicity for Healthy Stables by Design, I gained experience working in concert with Washington International Horse Show, Phelps Media Group, and John’s co-writer, Beth Herman. I was also fortunate to be able to attend the event at WIHS. It was a great opportunity to see some of my work come to fruition, watch some great riding, chat with my co-workers again, and meet up with all the people I have spoken with and never met. Check out the tour list to find your opportunity to meet John.
The most exciting part of my summer was helping with the architectural projects in the office. I really enjoyed assisting the architectural staff with the Westchester Condominium project, the Valley Vista Project, and a private farm. One treasured experience was the chance to make a few conceptual site plans of my own. Not only did John teach me about the many considerations when designing a site, but he allowed me to put the concepts into practice. Fortunately, I also got the chance to check out the River Bank Barn and River farm. It was nice to see all John’s principles come to life as we explored both structures.
Being an equestrian myself, I have spent a good deal of time in barns. I have always been partial to the beautiful simplicity of these structures. As John told me more about his rationale behind every detail, I was fascinated. It was always interesting to hear the reasons for things that I had always before taken for granted. It also made me look at barns in a different way. I continue to contemplate the benefits of ventilation and Dutch Doors. In every barn I have been in since, I have made at least one comment on the ventilation properties (much to my mother’s chagrin).
I really enjoyed my time at Blackburn Architects and want to thank the staff for having me. I feel very lucky that I had such a great opportunity to learn from John and everyone in the office.
Date: November 6th, 2013
Location: Lucky Jack Farm in Rancho Santa Fe, CA
Patty Brutten, the farm owner led off the presentation with introductions and a brief history of what led her to build Lucky Jack Farm. The property was designed in the Rancho Santa Fe historic style made famous by Lilian Rice in the 1920’s and has an historic designation characterized by low-slung terra cotta roofs, shuttered, deep-set windows, white or neutral colored adobe walls, and intimate patios and courtyards, that define the area. Today it is known as California Romantica, California Mission, or Spanish Colonial style.
All of the author proceeds for the sale of John Blackburn’s book, Healthy Stables by Design, are donated to equine charities. The owners of Lucky Jack Farm, hosts of this event, chose REINS Therapeutic Riding Program in Fallbrook, CA. Debbie Shinner, who has been the Executive Director of REINS since 1995, spoke about the program, its history, and how she became involved in 1992.
Our own John Blackburn followed Debbie with an introduction of some of the key members of the design and builder team, a short presentation about his background designing for horses, and the design aspects he believes to be essential for successful equestrian projects. He also covered design concepts of his firm’s predesigned Blackburn Greenbarns® as well paying notice to several projects in the book, Healthy Stables by Design. As he does in every presentation, John stressed how the health and safety of the horse remains the priority in every design regardless of the budget, location, or program.
Following the presentation, Blackburn architect, Dan Blair led a portion of the attendees on a tour of the Lucky Jack Barn, illuminating its unique design aspects and how the firm tackled the challenge of having the barn’s designs comply with strict building and fire codes without sacrificing a healthy and safe environment for the horses.
The event ended with the sale of 64 copies of Healthy Stables by Design and raised nearly $2000 for the charity. This amount was increased significantly by several private voluntary donations.
John continues on his book tour and equine charity events with presentations in Pebble Beach and Monterey CA and at a private facility in Central California in the Bay Area.
Scroll down for pictures from the event.
John has traveled to the National Horse Show and is signing and selling the book there. Check out Phelps’ Media release to find out more.
“Blackburn will hold additional signings at the Alltech National Horse Show in Lexington, KY on Friday, Nov. 1, at 6:30 p.m. at the Taylor Harris Club and Saturday, Nov. 2 at noon in the North Star Rider Lounge. He will also appear on WKYT-TV in Lexington, KY on their 12:30 p.m. news broadcast. Blackburn has graciously declined profit from the book and will donate all author proceeds to equine charities.”
The book is officially launched! This friday at the Armed Forces Reception, Blackburn Architects celebrated the release of Healthy Stables by Design. Check out this link for more information.
“Approximately 250 VIPs, guests and members of the media joined Blackburn for a short program, cocktails and dinner. A portion of the ticket sales and all author proceeds from Blackburn’s book were donated to the Caisson Platoon Equine Assisted Therapy Program and PATH International’s Wounded Warrior Project area organizations: Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program, Maryland Therapeutic Riding, Therapeutic Riding and Recreation Center and Loudoun Therapeutic Riding.”
Today, Aiken Standard has written an article on John Blackburn’s practice and Healthy Stables by Design. Please feel free to find the article located here. Check it out to find out more about his practice, designs, and the book.
Click on this link to check out John’s full tour list. Today the first private event kicks off in Illinois!
“Pegaso Farm’s owner challenged Blackburn to design the barn in the Prairie style of Frank Lloyd Wright. The goal was to design the farm with the owner’s preferences in mind, while creating a healthy environment for horses with their sensitive respiratory systems. The result balanced the needs of the owner, the demands of the site and the health of the horse.
In addition to his visit to Pegaso Farm, Blackburn will make public appearances at bookshops, museums, equestrian venues and major horse shows across the country. All author profits from the book will be donated to various equine charities.”
In the recent publication of Equestrian Quarterly, John Blackburn and Great Roads Farm is featured. Take some time to look at Barn Design Masterclass: How to Get the Best Barn While Working Within a Budget. John shares some tips for designing within budget without sacrificing the essential elements of a well-designed barn.
The article “Safe Stabling: Protect the People” by Nancy Loving DVM shares a few tips and suggestions on how people can keep themselves safe around horses and in barns. Her fun photo challenge first caught my attention, as we have done similar challenges (as seen here). My career in designing horse farms has continuously focused on how to design for the safety of both horse and handler. I wanted to add some additional tips on how stable design can help keep both people and animals safe. One could write a book on the subject, and I have in fact. My book Healthy Stables by Design (www.healthystablesbydesign.com) has been released. But for now, I’ll name eight areas of concern: Circulation, Fire Separation, Ventilation, Finishes, Layout, Materials, Orientation, and Natural Light (see diagram below). I have shared one example under each, but in truth the list is virtually limitless. Feel free to comment with your own suggestions. Let’s build a list together and see how far we can take it.
Circulation: In planning the farm and the location of the barn relative to paddocks, roadways, service lanes, and lead paths, always try to bring people, vehicles, and horses as close together as possible without crossing paths. They should be separate, but still efficient (as all circulation routes are costs in terms of installation, maintenance and operation).
Fire Separation: It goes without saying that fire safety is a major concern around horse barns. Both how you design to prevent and contain a fire once it happens is important. I always suggest isolating hay, bedding, and flammable products (such as fuel and machinery) from the barn by placing them in a separate structure. Whenever you can, consider fire separations. For example, I frequently design a fire separation that isolates the stall area from the service areas of the barn by using pocket doors to close off the aisle. They serve to isolate the “human areas,” such as tack room, laundry, lounge, or office, from the “horse areas.” By doing so, they separate the areas of high risk from the horses. If there is a fire, the fire separation works to contain the smoke and slow the spread of the fire in order to give you more time to get the horses out.
Ventilation: The most important health concern for your horses. Natural ventilation, including vertical ventilation, is the most important design consideration. Design the barn to be a natural machine, not just a static structure. Use the Bernoulli principle and the chimney effect to create that. Place the barn perpendicular to the summer prevailing breeze in order to take the most advantage of the site.
Finishes: Avoid finishes that will collect dirt, moisture, bacteria, etc. For that reason, we do not advise using finishes that are not easily washable or do not drain well.
Layout (site and building): Consider the natural slope and drainage of the land. Place the barn on a pad that is at least 18″ to 2 ft above finish grade. Ideally, one wants the ground to slope away from the finish floor of the barn, as this will aid with drainage.
Materials: Never use exposed concrete if you can help it, unless adequately protected (rubber mats, etc). The use of concrete is especially bad in stalls and wash/grooming areas, where horse may be standing for long periods of time.
Orientation: Orientation is important for natural ventilation, but it’s also important to consider the angles of the sun during different times of the year for natural light. Protection from the sun might also be a concern, so consider the design of openings, overhangs, view corridors, security, etc.
Natural light: When designing a barn for health and safety, natural light is probably only second to natural ventilation in importance. The horse was meant to live in nature. Natural light is key to the natural cycling of broodmares in a thoroughbred-breeding farm, but it also helps promote the health of any horse. Lighting is also a safety and cost concern. The more you can use natural light to light your barn, the less you need to depend on man-made light, which is an operational cost but also a fire hazard.
These are 8 of my favorite health and safety design principles. Read the article by Nancy Loving, look at your own farm and try to add to the list I have started above. We can all have a little fun with it and maybe learn a few pointers while we are at it.
Good luck and I look forward to your responses.
I hope some of you saw the mention of River Farm (designed by Blackburn Architects) in Washington Life Magazine, as well as the information on the Washington International Horse Show. I plan to exhibit my new book, Healthy Stables by Design, at the Washington International Horse Show from Oct. 22-27. I will be on the concourse every night (except Friday) from 7 pm to 9 pm selling and signing books. On Friday, there will be a formal book launch party in the Acela club for skybox level ticket holders and invited guests. Ten percent of book sales throughout the entire event will be donated to PATH International’s Wounded Warrior Project. If you are planning to attend the show, please feel free to stop by and say hello!
Feel free to check out the article “Fire Wind Water: Thoughtful Barn Design May Reduce Disaster Risk” from Polo Magazine’s current issue at the included link. John has provided his comments on how to design a safe barn for a variety of climates and regions. You can find the article from Polo Magazine here: Polo Article September 2013. (Photo credit for image on page 36 to Ken Wyner, Top image on page 37 photo credit to Max MacKenzie)