U.S. Building of the Week

The Barn

4. February 2019
Photo: Chad Davies

Although it opened to the public in 2016, The Barn was again in the news around Sacramento, California, late last year when the indoor restaurant occupying the structure's "Pods" finally opened. Now home to a pizza restaurant with food trucks and a 400-seat beer garden, The Barn is a destination for food and drinks as well as the occasional concert or festival. !melk answered a few questions about their design of The Barn.

Project: The Barn, 2016
Location: West Sacramento, California, USA
Client: Fulcrum Property
Architect: !melk
Design Principal: Jerry van Eyck
Project Manager: Ian Hampson
Architect of Record: BIMtech, Inc.
Structural/Civil Engineer: Magnussen Klemencic Associates
Landscape Architect: !melk
Site Area: 0.89 acre
Building Area: 9,100 sf
Photo: Chad Davies
What were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?

The Barn is the inaugural project for “The Bridge District,” a new 178-acre mixed-use neighborhood development one mile from the California State Capitol in West Sacramento, California.

Photo: Chad Davies
Please provide an overview of the project.

A multi-use structure, The Barn blurs the disciplinary boundaries of architecture, landscape architecture, and structural engineering. The first-ever structure of its kind, The Barn opened in June of 2016 and has since hosted al fresco dinners, festivals (up to 30,000 visitors per event), farmers’ markets, charity events, TED talks, etc. at the center of a framed view of Downtown Sacramento and providing a grand gateway to the riparian Sacramento Riverfront — something that has been long missing from Sacramento’s urban landscape.

Photo: Chad Davies
What are the main ideas and inspirations influencing the design of the building?

Situated within the larger Northern California agricultural zone, the sculptural form of The Barn is inspired by a sprouting vegetable seed. This form is further informed by sun angles, whereby The Barn’s orientation on the site and the ultimate shape of its canopy maximizes the amount of shade created for the benefit of its users. The overall architectural concept is facilitated by a contemporary interpretation of traditional barn building components with the aid of parametric design.

Photo: Chad Davies
How does the design respond to the unique qualities of the site?

Structurally, the building is designed to seemingly defy gravity. As a double cantilever, the superstructure springs upward from two independent foundations, meeting at a dramatic apex that forms a sinuous canopy. The beams and trusses are constructed from glue-laminated wood. Intermittent steel reinforcements join the various trusses into beautifully expressed trestles visible from within the two enclosed “pods” and from the exposed underside of the canopy. The shell of the structure is achieved by using nominal wood members, laid side-by-side in a singular direction, to create straight line generated curves upon which the shingle roofing can be applied.

Programmatically, the project is comprised of two “Pods” from which each side of the superstructure contacts the ground, an open air canopy, and a larger landscape that connects to the river walk and new development. The “Pods” introduce a level of flexibility to the facility. The larger Pod is outfitted to accommodate a restaurant and the smaller Pod outfitted to accommodate a secondary-use of the same tenant, or can be operated by a completely different tenant. Regardless of tenancy, each Pod has ample outdoor seating that is protected from the sun beneath an 80-foot long canopy that soars 20-feet in the air.

Photo: Chad Davies
Was the project influenced by any trends in energy-conservation, construction, or design?

The Barn, constructed entirely from wood, stays true to how traditional barns are built, yet with a contemporary interpretation of the traditional barn building components. With the aid of parametric design, the project delivers a non-traditional shape with a traditional material. The Barn is a fully functioning building, with dedicated electric, water, gas, HVAC, and public restrooms, and complies with California’s stringent Title 24 energy guidelines. Programmatically, The Barn is comprised of two “Pods” from which each side of the superstructure contacts the ground, an open air canopy, and a larger landscape that connects to the river walk and new development.

Email interview conducted by John Hill.

Elevations (Drawing: !melk)
Traditional barn compared with "The Barn" (Drawing: !melk)
Structural components (Drawing: !melk)
Perspective section (Drawing: !melk)

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