Cowell Ranch Hay Barn wins architectural awards

Photo of renovated Cowell Ranch Hay Barn
Photo of renovated Cowell Ranch Hay Barn lit up at night
The Cowell Ranch Hay Barn has won two architectural awards: a 2016 Excellence in Design Honor Award from American Institute of Architects Montana, and the 2017 U.S. WoodWorks Regional Excellence Award from the Wood Products Council.

The 150-year-old Hay Barn reopened in September 2015 following an extensive renovation funded by a gift from the Helen and Will Webster Foundation. Construction techniques from the 1860s were used to tie together the superstructure, including mortise and tenon joinery. The project used a combination of new timbers and wood salvaged from the original barn, which was carefully dismantled prior to reconstruction. The new barn was engineered and built to meet modern safety and environmental concerns. The building now houses the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, hosts high-profile campus events and programs, and is available as a rental facility.

Architect Richard Fernau of Fernau & Hartman Architects, Inc., in Berkeley, led the project. A UC Santa Cruz graduate (B.A., philosophy, '69), Fernau was thrilled when he got the job, the biggest challenge of which was "the reinvention of something completely new that preserves the mystique of the old."

The AIA Montana award noted the "exhaustive documentation, piece-by-piece deconstruction, painstaking reassembly of the historic structure by weaving together new and old elements, and the incorporation of contemporary program. As home to one of the university’s most progressive programs, the Hay Barn is both an emblem of the campus’ origins and a reassertion of its commitment to innovation."

The WoodWorks Wood Design Award adds to the attention the Hay Barn is receiving. The project will be showcased on the WoodWorks online gallery
later this month, featured in a video for trade shows, and included in a forthcoming book, “Celebrating Excellence in Wood Architecture 2016-2017."