Questions for an Equestrian Architect? Ask Away!

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Hello, all! I’m thinking about writing up a few posts about common questions/concerns/etc. from clients (or those debating whether to hire an architect) that I frequently encounter when designing equestrian facilities. I’d like to welcome any and all questions, from the general —How does the architectural process work? –to the specific– Should I build a concrete block barn or a wood frame?

Tack Room at Lucky Jack Farm in Rancho Santa Fe, California

With that being said, if you ever are boggled by bad stable design or poorly planned layouts, I’d be interested in your thoughts as to why the design did not work and how it might be improved. I often find myself critiquing other designs — and I’m not just talking about the aesthetics, but how function and operation so often fall apart due to a poorly conceptualized site plan or design. Not to mention the details overlooked that could be hazardous to your horse and you. But I guess that’s another topic for another day.

I hope to hear from you soon as your comments and ideas really help drive the content of this blog. Incidentally, we’re 10 days into the new year and it’s practically 60 degrees Fahrenheit in DC — kind of bizarre and I’m wondering if this mild winter will bring an earlier-than-usual construction season? Well, an architect can hope!

Posted in Equestrian News, Sustainable Design |

4 responses to “Questions for an Equestrian Architect? Ask Away!”

  1. Kelly RGF says:

    I have questions about planning for the future when building in the present. How can you allow flexibility for future development (that may never occur) without constricting the initial plans too much? What aspects do clients need to consider carefully so that they are being realistic about the possibility and direction of development? What are good areas to skimp on (thus saving funds and hastening development) and what areas are essential to do really, really well?

    Some other things I’d like to know:
    – What were the worst stable designs you have seen?
    – What are common mistakes?
    – Is there a time and a place for off-the-shelf, cookie-cutter buildings AND architecturally designed facilities, or is it just a matter of money and market?
    – I live in an area where it rains a lot. What are the most effective drainage solutions? Where should run-off water go? What kind of drains are the safest?

    Thank you in advance if you get a chance to answer any of those :).

  2. Hi Kelly,

    Thanks so much for taking time to comment and for your great questions! I’ll try to tackle one or two of them this week. I’m traveling to a site today but will think these over in the meantime.

    Thanks again for your feedback.


  3. theagritect says:

    I always try to apply good sustainable design to a building, to take advantage of natural ventilation, natural daylighting, etc. The catch with this is windows. Glass can be very expensive in the quantities required for daylighting purposes and to maintain some R value to the wall. What do you use to maintain some R-value and is cost efficient for transpaency?

    • It is good that you are using sustainable design practices.

      I assume you are referring to a barn rather than a residence or some other type conditioned space. Because our barns are not mechanically heated or air conditioned, R value is rarely an issue. We prefer the interior barn temperature remain relatively close to that of the exterior. We do, however, design the barn so the horse is not forced to stand in a draft, get wet or stand in constant sunlight.

      We try to incorporate natural light and natural ventilation in all our barns. We typically use a Polygal plastic material (polycarbonate) for the skylights. It is available in different thicknesses with an air space within the panel and comes in a variety of translucencies. I recommend using translucent as opposed to clear. In a barn, I want the skylight to heat up from the sun because temperature differential between the barn floor and the top of the roof produces natural ventilating currents that rid the barn of odors and harmful pathogens. We also provide a continuous vent at either the skylight curb or ridge.

      If you are designing for a conditioned space such as a residence, then I recommend a thicker Polygal material, possibly using a material like Kalwall or glass. Those materials can get expensive but do provide a great abundance of natural light.

      I hope this is helpful.

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