The organization gave Dart one of its 2002 Honor Awards for his renovation of an 18th century barn that included the addition of a modern lath house, a structure reminiscent of a traditional corncrib. Corncribs were once used to store corn and grain. The two structures are located on the 44-acre grounds of Historic Bartram's Garden, Philadelphia. The grounds feature an 18th century mansion, gardens and farm buildings.
“The 1775 barn is second only to the nearby mansion house in architectural significance,” says Dart. “However, unlike the house, the barn had retained little of its original materials or configuration except for its massive stone walls. The challenge was to preserve the barn’s character and spirit while creating a museum-quality environment.”
The AIA Honor Awards, the profession's highest recognition of excellence in design, best exemplifies excellence in architecture, interiors, and urban design. Dart’s award was selected from among 700 submissions. In presenting the award, the jury described the project as an ingenious addition to an historic barn that creates interest by contrasting the new with the old.
The barn had seen many additions and alterations over the years. It had remained a working structure well into the 20th century, having been altered last in the 1920s. Dart’s renovation converted the barn into meeting and exhibition space for educational programs. The lath house features bathrooms on the lower level and administrative offices on the upper level.
Dart worked hard to maintain the barn’s 18th century character, while providing modern comforts. For example, he used already-existing open joints in the plank flooring to hide registers for a climate control system. He redesigned the interior roof construction to evoke the openness of the original queen-post trusses as well as accommodate new insulation and lighting.
The lath house, which is completely new, relates to the barn and the other 18th century barnyard structures, in ways that reflect the scale and configuration of structures that might have occupied the site historically, says Dart. It is not a re-creation, though it does match the footprint of a long-demolished 18th century side bay. In massing and materials, the lath house repeats the pitch of the barn roof and the precedent of wood over masonry construction. Formally, the building resembles a traditional lath house, although it was constructed in contemporary materials such as concrete foundations, polycarbonate wall sheathing, cedar slatting, galvanized steel struts and roofing panels. Recycled materials requiring minimum finishing or maintenance were used wherever possible.
Historic Bartram’s Garden, located at 54th Street and Lindbergh Blvd, Philadelphia (215-729-5281) is a public botanical garden (www.bartramsgarden.org) offering free daily admission to the garden, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
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