The Barnes Center
Josh Andrews and Julie Arnold
Hood Construction, General Contractor, Columbia, SC Michael Simpson, Michael Simpson and Associates, Structural Engineer, Greenville, SC Lonnie Dutton, Dutton Engineering, Civil Engineer, Greenville, SC David Sacks, David Sacks Landscape Architecture, Landscape Architect, Avondale Estates, GA Seth Spangler and Emily Morgan, RMF Engineering, MEP Engineering, Atlanta, GA
The design team transformed an abandoned, historic barn into a unique and vibrant student activity center. Built at the turn of the century, the barn is on the National Register and embodies Clemson University’s agricultural roots. It was originally used as an experimental station focusing on healthier livestock practices. For the past twenty years, the barn was used for storage and exhibited signs of significant deterioration. The university desired to restore the barn and create a space that was truly unique to their institution. The program called for a collaborative space for students that provides an inviting destination for food service and nightlife entertainment on campus. The project provides a venue for concerts, crafts, viewing parties, and various performances with a coffee house vibe.
The design concept springs from embracing the beauty and logic of the original historic barn and inserting modern elements that complement that original design. Understanding and researching the barn’s design origins significantly informed the design concept. Through our background research, the design team discovered that the existing second floor was not an original feature. The second floor has been removed to recapture the open and airy volume that the flooring had obscured. In order to keep the interior space as open as possible, an Out Structure was constructed adjacent to the barn to provide supplemental bathrooms and to house mechanical units and storage functions. The floor plan remains open and flexible creating a dynamic environment for large groups while the repurposed masonry grain silos create a more intimate setting. In the process, the design team exposed all the original wood structure and then contrasted that with new materials to clearly articulate new elements from historic fabric. Restoration of major character-defining features included refurbishment of operable pivot windows, sliding barn doors, as well as vented louvers and cupolas. Integrated uplighting is used to highlight the simple and elegant interior and roof framing. The lighting effect is most dramatically illustrated when viewed through the transparent curtain wall opening inserted on the side of the barn. Located in an area where the entry point had already been modified several times, the curtain wall entry completely transforms the barn’s interior/exterior connection. The entry opens onto a plaza and green space where programmed activities can spill outside. This transparent, modern insertion offers a glimpse of the sofly uplit warm wood finishes and entices the students to check out the various student activities going on inside. The thoughtful detailing, creative use of materials, and clarity between existing and new have allowed the project to remain on the Historic Register and given the barn new life as a vibrant new hang out for students on campus.