2017 AIA Awards - Architecture
Until it was shuttered in 2003, the Hutto Cotton and Grain Co-Op had served the primarily agricultural community of Hutto, Texas, for nearly 70 years. As the town’s population expanded rapidly at the turn of the 21st century, residential development gobbled up the surrounding farms and ranches, and the co-op ceased operations.
This reuse of the two existing cotton gin structures is the first piece of a 2012 master plan to revitalize the site, which was purchased by the city. Both structures were selectively deconstructed and reused to create a single open-air 6,500-square-foot public events space. The new building is wrapped in perforated stainless steel that reflects the hot Texas sun during the day and provides intriguing transparency at night.
The design team succeeded in creating a flexible space for public and private events that complements everything from programmatic functions of the local library and farmers markets to artisan fairs and wedding receptions. Existing materials not used in construction of the Cotton Gin were carefully inventoried and stored with plans for their use in a new adjacent city hall.
From the beginning, the city wanted the project to achieve LEED Silver or better, but the 2008 recession drastically reduced the project’s scope and budget. However, the team was still able to meet the city’s sustainability goals on a budget of just $1 million. Green by virtue of its composition of recycled materials and the absence of mechanical systems, the Cotton Gin’s electrical consumption is limited to several industrial fans and high-efficiency lighting. Apart from two hose spigots and the fire sprinkler system, the Cotton Gin has no plumbing.
With eyes on the past and one foot in the future, the Cotton Gin has set an aesthetic benchmark for the site’s future development and further implementation of the master plan.