Ranch recovery act

Repurposing buildings restores compound's soul

"Almost poetic. An eloquent affirmation of place. Not just adaptive reuse, it's redemptive reuse."
- jury comment

HONOR AWARD (restoration), Fernau & Hartman Architects, Berkeley
What could be more Western than a partially abandoned ranch compound in the Big Sky Country of Montana? And what could be more difficult than to turn such a place into a contemporary vacation home without damaging its flinty, authentic character? Here's a project that succeeds on all counts.

The compound originally consisted of a 1,200-square-foot house "last occupied by cattle and vermin" and an abandoned 1,200-square-foot granary. The program included restoring and repurposing these structures and adding a 1,250-square-foot "car barn."

The architects treated the structures like found objects in a large architectural collage, relocating house and granary to create more dynamic relationships to the site. After repairing and replacing key house elements like windows and siding, they inserted a dormer, a porch, and a large, elegant steel-and-glass bifold door.

They reconfigured the interior around a new two-story wall clad in red-stained horizontal siding. It functions as a display and storage wall and brings an outdoor feeling indoors. The ground floor is a flexible space for living, dining, and cooking, with access to the new porch. Bedrooms and a play loft are upstairs under the eaves. The granary became a bunkhouse, gym, and theater.

This ranch is ready for its next hundred years.

ARCHITECT: (510) 848-4480