2011 Recipient | AIA Housing Awards

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Blair Barn House | Notes of Interest

The Blair Barn House takes cues from classic nineteenth-century barns and updates them for the twenty-first century. Features include barn siding that allows for filtered light through a few large, strategically placed openings, a sleeping loft that creates an airy respite, and lower level bedrooms that provide cozy, down-to-earth privacy.

Two volumes- one in steel, the other in hardwood strips- have been inserted into the open, two-story “barn space” where they provide under- and over-spaces like a hayloft and granary floor. The goal was to build a modern design that is still acceptable in a rural community where families have lived for generations. The design gives a nod to farm technology and respects a farmer's common-sense approach to changing seasons and his/her respective tasks.

The Blair Barn House utilizes a geothermal heating system, passive solar/sun shading and the strategic placement of windows for reduced heat loss. A concrete thermal mass floor integrates in-floor heat. The warped west facade gives nod to the graceful, aging, grey-barn neighbor, and features great sliding porch doors. Inside, ropes and pulleys operate lights and doors. Outside, awnings of steel and cable provide for adjustable light infiltration. Locally harvested 4/4 rough-sawn white oak creates a rain screen as an exterior skin. Together with clients, the architect put together a program of creating a full-time house with three bedrooms, two and a half baths, and adequate storage. The project is 2600 gross square feet, with 1850 finished square feet.


  • Construction: Empire Development
  • Engineering: Stroh Engineering
  • Photo Credit: © Alchemy LLC

Blair Barn House

  • Architect: Alchemy
  • Owner: Donna Brogan and Bert Hodous
  • Location: Blair, Wis.

Jury Comments

Wonderfully whimsical!

The house transforms into a beautiful lantern at night.

This wonderful and stunning modern take on the original reflects and updates the soul of the original barn

2011 AIA Housing Awards Jury

  • Katherine Austin, AIA, Chair
  • Katherine Austin Architect
  • Sebastopol, Calif.
  • Claire Conroy
  • Residential Architecture Magazine
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Mike Jackson, FAIA
  • Historical Preservation Agency
  • State of Illinois
  • Springfield, Ill.
  • Luis Jauregui, AIA
  • Jaurequi, Inc.
  • Austin, Tex.
  • Marilys Nepomechie, FAIA
  • Florida International University Miami
  • Coconut Grove, Fla.

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